The Sentient Office is Coming

“The European Commission report on ambient intelligence describes a fanciful scenario in which Maria, a businesswoman, arrives at a foreign airport and walks through immigration unchecked, thanks to a wristwatch computer that presents her ID and visa for validation. At the kerbside, a rental car unlocks itself as she approaches and then guides her to a reserved parking bay at her hotel. As Maria enters her room, it adapts to her preferences by adjusting the temperature, lighting and choice of TV and music channels. Later, she talks to her daughter on a video wall while inserting local references into her presentation for the morning using the hotel’s special software.|Yes, all science fiction today.” —The Sentient Office is Coming (Economist)

While this article approaches scientific advances from the standpoint of financial incentive (perfectly appropriate, given The Economist‘s reader base), I’m personally more interested in ways that established institutions thwart technological advancements that threaten it (c.f. the Napster debate). A related problem is how technology cheerleaders try to court big existing markets, such as education. (See Vitia’s thoughtful response to EDUCAUSE’s techno-cheerleading.)

Since I have no viable plan for making money off of instructional technology without becoming evil, I feel a bit guilty for criticizing someone else’s business plan… but I never planned to make big money with my English degree anyway. It’s a luxury to be able to sit back and offer thoughtful critiques of the hype technology companies try to generate.