I've just seen a TV show about houses of the near future. One of those shows that are all about bright tomorrow and how technology will make our lives marvelous.
Some of those things are really great and interesting. Recycled materials, energy saving and other ecology stuff. Daring designs. Technology aided conformity. And tons of nonsense.
It starts easily. Each of us can imagine a centralized home computer. One that manages the heating and air-conditioning, turns on and off security system and (thanks to motion sensors and even RFID's) lights. You get the idea. It also opens the door for the dwellers. Why would anybody non-disabled want a computer to open the doors? I can't imagine.
But it doesn't end there. The home computer has a personality… well, it has a 3D modeled face that shows on the computer monitor and talks in computer generated voice. And acts as a virtual battler. Matter of taste, but I'd rather have a poltergeist at home than a crappy 3D model to creep me out. And, as any battler would, home computer tells you when you have a phone call. Like the ringing was somehow not enough. Next step? Computer will answer the call and ask who the call is for in its creepy voice:
Please press one for mom, press two for dad, press three…. at any time you can press zero for a human….
If that's a bright future, it wasn't worth the effort.
But those things so far are just a nice geek toys. Danger is somewhere else. Danger is in the refrigerator!
Refrigerator of the future, and we're talking very near future here, will be aware of the stuff stored inside. So you'll be saved from hard and daunting duty of checking if you have run out of milk or whatever. Fridge will do it on its own and spill the result on the huge touch screen on its door. Where the magnets are supposed to go I'm not sure.
Then, it will use the Internet (have you doubted that anything will not be connected?) and order the fresh supplies. Which sounds great for a second. And only a second. No matter how much you hate going to the grocery store, you should choose what are you going to order. Otherwise, you either end up with the same stuff every day or with what your Internet-connected fridge thinks you should have. It's hard to decide what's worse.
Then my personal highlight of future stupidity came. Let's say you want to cook and you take flour and eggs on the countertop. Your intelligent house scans them, shakes its artificial intelligence a bit, pings the Internet and projects a couple of recipes on the wall in front of you. Like you're retarded enough and can't google how to make pancakes.
I can understand the geeks who make all those things. It's fun to connect your phone line to the computer and make an avatar say a sentence instead of ringing. But it's fun to make it work, not to use it. It's even more fun to make an AI that will predict and respond to one's daily movement through the house. But employing it makes a step further in getting more stupid by high technology.
Will all those things make our lives any better? No, they won't. Not, unless you passionately hate opening the doors and turning off the lights manually before going to sleep. Smart use of energy and recycled materials, intelligent and creative use of space, will make our lives better. AI's, sensors and geek's toys are just superfluous bullshit that, as so many times these days, are supposed to sell us something we don't need and make us feel good about that.