Rant: False (tech) promises…

You wake up riled. The room is full of a weird acrid smell because you forgot to press auto-renew on the filters and the whole process has clearly malfunctioned. The light from your automatically opening curtains is blinding and as you stumble, bleary eyed, from your bed you can’t find the override switch. You’re getting increasingly annoyed: “Where is iiiiiit?” Tripping over your feet you fall into a swearing heap on the floor. Your day has got off to a decidedly bad start…

In life, there is nothing quite so obnoxious as the expectation-raising false promise. Tell me in advance something will be a bit mediocre and I’ll be a happy enough, but brazenly lie that something will be brilliant – when it clearly isn’t - and you’ll see me decidedly irked. Now in these days of constant innovation, technology promises much more than ever before… and the most obvious result is stupidly inflated expectations.

Take The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business, published last year, by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen of Google - this sets us up for a pretty epic fail. As per the scenario above, here is what they write about our lives in 2033:  “You'll be roused by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, by light entering your room as curtains open automatically, and by a gentle back massage administered by your hi-tech bed.”

Rubbish. I’m not convinced. It may all sound lovely but there are too many moving plates that won’t work together in practice. Oh yes, the Internet of Things may be becoming more of a reality and many things may be ‘smart’ these days, but are we really supposed to buy the notion that our homes will become “an electronic orchestra” with us cast in the role of  “conductor”?

I guarantee if that were the case, I would not get the Philharmonic. Watch that Untalented Bunch of Pushy-Parent 7-Year-Olds go. All those squeaky violins, off-kilter trumpets and over-zealous cymbals will just be swapping in a different kind of irritation. Yet that annoyance will be made maddeningly intense by the fact that I expect it all to work perfectly.

These might be the zenith of First World problems but consumers are not the ones dreaming up this stuff. It would frankly never have occurred to me to expect to be woken to the smell of freshly brewed coffee but now I’ve been told I can have it… I want it. And I’ve arguably every right to be annoyed when it doesn’t deliver.

The promises of tech are panoramic and far reaching. And it is nothing new. As Jarvis Cocker once put it: “Oh we were brought up on the Space-Race, now they expect you to clean toilets.” Yet the notion that day-to-day nonsense will disappear keeps on persisting.

I’m pretty convinced, there is no easy way to bat out the frustrations of everyday reality. It doesn’t matter how much cash you lay down on shiny new stuff… all that spilled milk and those dog turds will still be there. The only difference is once you’ve been promised they won’t be… you’ll be extra hacked off when they are.


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