Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The replacement of people by things

Humans have always sought companionship. Consumer electronics manufacturers know this, and are ramping up their efforts to make their watches, phones and washing machines stand in for genuine human contact.


Humans seek companionship. When no one else is around, we look elsewhere for it. I don’t think I’m alone in turning on the television or checking Twitter at every opportune moment to “check in” on other people. On weekends or late nights in the office, I often fire up our drone and have it hover around the room. It makes me feel like someone else is there. Perhaps it would have been more practical for us to get a Roomba.

The point is, for as long as we’ve had technology, people have sought companionship from it. What’s new is that consumer electronics companies are now designing their products to mimic human voices and even biological functions: from voice-activated phones to washing machines that coo in disturbing simpatico with human beings – not to mention the trend in car manufacture toward more explicitly face-like front ends.
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