The Voice Catchers


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How Marketers Listen In to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet

Joseph Turow

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Your voice provides biometric data. How are marketers using it to manipulate you?

“[Dr. Turow ] is encouraging policymakers and the public to do something I wish we did more often: Be careful and considerate about how we use a powerful technology before it might be used for consequential decisions.”—Shira Ovide, New York Times

Only three decades ago, it was inconceivable that virtually entire populations would be carrying around wireless phones wherever they went, or that peoples’ exact locations could be tracked by those devices. We now take both for granted. Even just a decade ago the idea that individuals’ voices could be used to identify and draw inferences about them as they shopped or interacted with retailers seemed like something out of a science fiction novel. Yet a new business sector is emerging to do exactly that.
The first in-depth examination of the voice intelligence industry, The Voice Catchers exposes how artificial intelligence is enabling personalized marketing and discrimination through voice analysis. Amazon and Google have numerous patents pertaining to voice profiling, and even now their smart speakers are extracting and using voiceprints for identification and more. Customer service centers are already approaching every caller based on what they conclude a caller’s voice reveals about that person’s emotions, sentiments, and personality, often in real time. In fact, many scientists believe that a person’s weight, height, age, and race, not to mention any illnesses they may have, can also be identified from the sound of that individual’s voice. Ultimately, not just marketers, but also politicians and governments, may use voice profiling to infer personal characteristics for selfish interests and not for the benefit of a citizen or society as a whole.
Leading communications scholar Joseph Turow places the voice intelligence industry in historical perspective, explores its contemporary developments, and offers a clarion call for regulating this rising surveillance regime.

Joseph Turow is the Robert Lewis Shayon Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently The Aisles Have Eyes.

“[Dr. Turow ] is encouraging policymakers and the public to do something I wish we did more often: Be careful and considerate about how we use a powerful technology before it might be used for consequential decisions.”—Shira Ovide, New York Times

“This compelling and comprehensive book . . . is more than a consideration of the current state of speech technology. . . . [It] is also a serious call to action, expressing concern about the dearth of oversight on the collection of voice data, its use to identify individual people, its management and security risks, and . . . future possible commercial uses.”—Heath Row, New Media & Society

“Informative and engaging. . . . Some of the scenarios for the future capabilities of the voice intelligence industry seem rather speculative. However, I remember feeling the same in the early 2010s when reading Turow’s The Daily You for the first time. Yet now, only a few years later, much of what Turow predicted has become reality.”—Nils S. Borchers, Studies in Communication

One of Business Insider's "21 books to watch out for in 2021"

“If you think your voice belongs to you, think again. Joseph Turow performs a critical public service, exposing in all its slimy detail this latest frontier of exploitation, where our voices are plundered for analysis, prediction, behavioral manipulation, and profit."—Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

“A ground-breaking exploration of the new frontier of surveillance—the voice. With clarity and nuance, Joseph Turow reveals the stakes for democracies and liberty.”—Danielle Citron, author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

“In this forward-thinking and original book, Joseph Turow explores how our voices are the next frontier for technology companies and marketers, connecting the dots in a way that no one else yet has.”—Mara Einstein, author of Black Ops Advertising: Native Ads, Content Marketing and the Covert World of the Digital Sell

“In this well-researched call to action, Joseph Turow explains why we need to protect the human voice to shield our thoughts and emotions.”—Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Professor of Law in Residence, University of California, Berkeley

The Voice Catchers is compelling, thoroughly researched, and filled with jaw-dropping revelations. It gives readers a fascinating peek under the hood of the companies exploiting our voices, as well as reasons to hold them accountable.”—Woodrow Hartzog, Professor of Law and Computer Science, Northeastern University
ISBN: 9780300268164
Publication Date: January 10, 2023
344 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
The Daily You

How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth

Joseph Turow

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The Aisles Have Eyes

How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power

Joseph Turow

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