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Food For Thought: How Smart Should Your Kitchen Be?

Charles Kelly
AP Photo
"Who are you and what have you done with my wife?!"

I am not a Luddite. I'm not; I'm not; I'm not! I mention that only because when Nancy Leson confessed to her seduction by Amazon Echo, I had to ask her what that was.

"You can do things like say, 'Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes,' or 'Alexa, please turn on knkx,' or 'Add half-and-half to my shopping list' and it will do it."

Big deal, I told her, 'You can do all that stuff yourself. Why would you want this thing in your house relaying your grocery list to the CIA – and I don't mean the Culinary Institute of America.'"

From there the conversation moved to so-called 'smart kitchens.'  Connect my range and refrigerator to the internet? Install a touch-screen faucet? Sure. Water and electricity - what could go wrong? But wait – there's more! And I swear I'm not making this up.

The WAREable website tells us that without Bluetooth-enabled cutlery "you might as well be eating your dinner with twigs." At first glance I thought I'd stumbled onto a parody site. But no, it's for real. Check out the Egg Minder and Geni Can and wonder how you ever lived without them.

Connected homes, smart kitchens? Seems to me there's a lot of risk for trivial convenience. Don't we have enough angst about our computers without having to worry about our whole homes getting hacked?

Credit Stein / Tyrell Corp
Tyrell Corp
Tad Doviak critiques my new password, PASSWORD.

In his New York Times article, "Here is How to Fend Off Hijacking of Home Devices," Brian Chen reports the faint praise that only 10 percent of American consumers were victims of a connected-home hacking crime. Knkx's IT guy Tad Doviak corrects that to "Only 10 percent of Americans know they've been victims."

Tad welcomes our new kitchen overlords but does have some safety suggestions.

"Change all the passwords from the defaults that come with the devices and have a separate Wi-Fi system for them," he says.

You don't want hackers accessing your bank account through the refrigerator light bulb, do you? After all, can you really know it's turned off when the door is shut?

"Everyone can go but I ain't goin'" – Lightnin' Hopkins

Dick Stein has been with KNKX since January, 1992. His duties include hosting the morning jazz show and co-hosting and producing the Food for Thought feature with the Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson. He was writer and director of the three Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen. Previous occupations include the USAF, radio call-in show host, country, classical and top-40 DJ, chimney sweep, window washer and advertising copywriter.