Freaking Out About a Brave New World
Feeling a bit nervous. Had a strange dream last night. In brilliant colour. All about the future. And it was weird.
Kept dreaming about voice bots. People walking around their house talking to their walls and the housebot talking back. Chatting, telling jokes, and laughing. As if the housebot was a person.
Reckon it was because I read an article yesterday. About people forming friendships with Amazon’s Alexa speaker. Just like how some people do with their satnavs.
Drove a car with a satnav once. She – they’re always a she for some reason – was more the bossy type. “Take the third exit NOW!” “Turn NOW!” “Do a U-turn IMMEDIATELY”, “Choose a new route NOW” Not nice.
But, what if my dream comes true? What if your home has a built in personality? What if it knows exactly what you need and when you need it, even before you do?
What if it learns all your habits, voice, and expressions? So it sounds like you! Then when you kick the bucket it, your family still feel like you haven’t quite left. Good in some ways but a bit unnerving. Like the housebot replaces you. Could leave you thinking, “Jump in my grave why don’t you?”
This kind of stuff would make the future easier. But it could also be problematic. Bit scary even. With everyone talking to the walls this kind of future isn’t what it used to be.
I mean, I’d happy enough just peering into minibars. A motel minibar lets you look into the future and find out what a can of coke will cost in 2030. That’s enough for me.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s hard enough making any predictions let alone about the future. But what if it’s true?
What if we all become a bunch of spineless wimps who can’t even buy a pair of jeans because our housebot reckons it shows your bulges too much? What if it won’t let you go out at night with your friends? Makes you stay home and tidy up your sock drawer, instead.
And what if it won’t let you watch your favourite TV show until you scrape out the mould on your tile grout?
That would be nice to come home to, wouldn’t it? Another night on the tiles.
People might even give up having partners for good. Hang out with their homebot instead.
Plus, you can skip any ideas you had about having any privacy. Your housebot will watch everything you do from every angle. In every room. Kind of like Big Brother, except you don’t get voted out of the show.
Imagine sitting over dinner with the kids and old mate housebot pipes up, “Did you know you are going through 27.9% more toilet paper this week? Do you have a problem with your bowels that I don’t know about?”
It’s a worry. I’m scared we’ll get so dependent on housebots we won’t even know how to turn on a light switch. How to tell the time. Or, find where our socks have gone (actually we lost that skill long ago).
But then, I come back to reality. It’s only a dream after all. People don’t want their hand held all the time. Thank goodness.
Night, Alexa. Lights out please.