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Can Artificial Intelligence Save Us From Our Household Appliances?

Lou Rushford, @iamjunielou

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The world is moving faster and smarter everyday, but can we really keep up with all the crazy innovations that modern technologies are bringing into our homes? Each passing year is marked by the hot new gadgets made for furthering the conveniences offered by our household appliances. What was superior technology last year becomes the stuff of Black Friday and Cyber Monday markdown this holiday season, just in time for everyone to buy it, try it, use it and return it before the trial subscriptions end.

It is a fact, whatever technology is being used by work place managers this Summer, will somehow become the hot trendy home appliance option the following tax season. Technology almost seems to be Beta tested at our job environments, only to be subliminally locked into the minds of consumers and then become the stuff of shopping sale stampedes by average consumers only months later. This disturbing trend isn't new and it isn't ethical, but it is the number one method of unloading millions of dollars in useless or outdated household tech and appliances, on an unsuspecting generation of baby boomer consumers.

For those who are lost reading this, let us consider the most recognizable product example or two without the context of when these items were being marketed originally. Just think of these recent technological trends from the last decade and notice how it changed drastically.

Consider then, vacuums were once under our control.

We had them at home and in the workplace, so that we could use nothing but our hands to guide them, use them, turn them on and off. As users, most people consider their ownership of a vacuum in the household, as a necessary evil. Well it isn't, because not everyone has carpeting and not everyone likes to vacuum their carpeting. Which opens the door for the Roomba and other robotic vacuum technologies. These devices went from closet stored home appliances, to small disc shaped UFO hover crafts that sweep, slide, duck, dive, then suck up unwanted dust bunnies and vacuum pack your family cat, all before the average day has even begun. All hail our future overlord masters, the Roomba and iRoomba with Bluetooth brainwashing functions, does that possibility scare your mind, only to be forgotten at random by all household users.

Next consider, walking once was a form of healthy exercise.

Enter the strangest household and outdoor appliance in our lifetimes, the Segway. These are the truly hell spawned answer to walking, driving or generally getting around as a bipedal humanoid on planet Earth. Designed to save the environment from toxic emissions and bad air quality, these have become the most honest technological advancement in dual wheeled, self propelled, battery powered electric vehicles ever invented, but nobody wanted to give up their cars or power walking apparently. Since the sales of the Segway barely broke even, making it the most innovative marketing failure in history, cavemen around the world college campuses had to ask themselves, "WTF? You mean I could have just walked over there?"

Then consider, the debate over what's the coolest espresso machine you can get.

This household technology is a conundrum, because it has no rhyme or reason-ability about it. An espresso machine was originally a very coveted item, that only elite coffee drinkers had in private homes with their wet bars. The decades passed and this machine became the tool of local coffee houses, making their baristas into cafe mystics of the coffee bean. As time goes on, espresso machines becomes a home appliance aimed with marketing towards Gen X babies for their college dorms and newlywed gift giving. Then Starbucks and other chain cafes make these coffee machines into a mainstay, connected by WiFi and mobile apps to suck customers in. These same customers already own espresso mini devices in their homes, but now want to purchase the ultimate Starbucks household version to replace their old kitchen Barista Express, De'Longhi Cappuccino maker or other classic espresso coffee presses. This household appliance is mostly annoying, especially when you consider that the 21st century answer to innovative coffee making design will still probably be sold under the brand name of Mr. Coffee.

Even artificial intelligence probably couldn't have predicted any of this, so that leaves the expiring mind to sit and ponder this retro-fitted epiphany. If smartphones are making the world smaller and soon everything will be interactive via wireless networks, streaming feeds and cloud technologies, can artificial intelligence save us from our household appliances? Because I think any best fitness trackers ever invented today may now have the ability to hack the Segway, and the Roomba can be reverse engineered for purposes of identity theft.

Without a way to command the growing arsenal of household appliances that are becoming part of daily life, could homes one day be required to have robot companions to help us interface with our daily appliances? And if so, how many users will also be making love with their robot companions, rather than look for their lost household remote control or contacting the Apple technical support online.

Yeah right, like anybody still calls IT departments for help in the 21st century.

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