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Photo and set design: Martyn Thompson. Wall mural Dove Drury Hornbuckle.

AGEIST CULTURE

ageist editors | may 25, 2018

calm tech

Do we need a sensing, Bluetooth-connected refrigerator or toaster or any number of add-on tech that is being advocated by the enthusiasts of The Internet of Things? No, we don’t. Amber Case, MIT Research Fellow and author of Calm Technology, points out that we don’t need a device to sense when our bananas are ripe — they come with a built-in feature for just that purpose: yellow skin. Adding useless tech to a well-designed, dumb machine not only makes the original machine fallible, it adds new pathways for someone to hack into our homes, complicates our home net, and does zero to improve our lives. Do you really need to get an alert on your phone to know what is in your fridge? Just open the door and look. Time and expense would be better spent making the fridge quieter, longer lasting and more energy efficient. This era we are in is reminiscent of past eras when wanton adoption of troublesome, invasive tech just for the sake of tech was all the rage. Having been in engineering school in the mid-70s, I can recall a lot of embarrassing widgets being made just because we could. In both cases, tech was created that consumed a lot of our attention; sort of like the Tamagotchi — they needed constant feeding. As Amber says, we need devices that make us smart at being human, and allow us to spend more time being human, rather than buying smarter devices that require our constant attention.