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Digital assistants embody the dream of an effortless future, free from the shackles of yesteryear: a tool which caters to users’ needs, excels at anticipating their wants, and delivers a personalized online environment. While digital assistants can certainly offer great value, a closer look reveals how—in an algorithm and data–driven world—a dominant digital assistant may ultimately serve the interests of corporations rather than consumers. Such assistants may be used to establish a controlled and manipulated personalized environment in which competition, welfare, privacy, and democracy give way to corporate interests. The future is not necessarily bleak, but requires our attention if users want the leading assistants to match the effortless dream.

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