Intelligent objects versus unhappy objects

November 15, 2004

Interesting metaphor for ubiquitous computing posted by Bill Grosso in the Future Salon blog: Unhappy objects:

Every now and then, wild-eyed visionaries start talking about artificial intelligence and what could happen when objects get intelligent. But artificial intelligence is hard, and solves problems that don't need to be solved.

In particular, I don't give a fig for intelligent objects. I don't want my stuff to be intelligent. I just want my stuff to be unhappy.

Why? Here's an example. I just spent 15 minutes walking around my house trying to find my coffee cup. It turned out to be behind the rice cooker.

Suppose my coffee cup had a sensor in the bottom, a battery in the handle, and the knowledge that if it starts out full of hot liquid and winds up, 4 hours later, full of cold liquid, it should be deeply unhappy and attempt to complain loudly and vociferously.

We could have an RFID-based system running in the house that looks for all the unhappy objects.

More generally, if my objects had a notion of home (or if the system had a notion of home), wouldn't life be wonderful. Suppose I could tell my house: the date/calendar book should be near the suitcase. And the suitcase should be in the bookcase near the front door.

And when I can't find the suitcase, it could find it. And when I ask it about the unhappy objects, it could say "Dude. You left the suitcase in the bathroom, under the sink again."

I'm serious. I don't really care much for Wal-mart's inventory problems. RFID could solve my inventory problems.


(via Simon in the comments of Nätverkssamhället)


Posted by andersja

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