James Burke did Connections, Connections II, and The Day the Universe Changed. All about how we got from there to here. It's very 70s slow -- almost what we now call Slow TV -- and at this point, some of this is beside the point, but still worth a view.
This short McGraw-Hill film from 1967 gets most of the technology right and some of the design details wrong, but it's remarkably accurate about 21st century homes. Surprisingly, where it's off the mark is 21st century economics. Even though the 2020 pandemic field-tested many longstanding ideas about working and learning from home, many of the economic concepts about health insurance and working conditions are still far distant future concepts in 2021.
Something it gets half-right: the kitchen. Between modern appliances (the microwave, the smart crockpot) and mail-order meal ingredients (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh), the Kitchen of the Future is here now, but we've dropped the idea of incinerating our dishes at the end of every meal and re-molding the plastic. We can't even recycle milk cartons properly. And imagine the smell and particulates.
The interesting thing is an interview with an industrial designer; after a tour of the glamorous new world of robotic cooking, they cut to a distinguished older man who designed this smart kitchen. "I think people will continue to make food the old-fashioned way," he says sheepishly. "Because they enjoy doing it."
One other oddity: In every 60s conception of the home of the future, from this to Disney to the Jetsons, living room ceilings are always at least 20-feet high, even in apartments.
Amazon wants to flood America with Alexa cameras and microphones
Ina Fried, Axios 9/25/2020
In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant.
Bob Peterson did not trust Alexa. He was very careful what he said in front of the artificial intelligence box, well aware she was a tendril of a vast computer housed somewhere cleaner than his house. He constantly reminded the rest of the family to watch what they said, and insisted they keep Alexa in the hallway, where it was less likely to overhear them. They laughed at him a lot.
It was something Bob felt strongly about when the new toaster arrived.
Bob burned his finger getting his first piece of toast out and said to his wife “Maybe we need toaster tongs,” to which his wife replied “Good idea.” The next afternoon Bob returned from work and was surprised to discover a package on the step: toaster tongs. He stood in the front hall and called to the kitchen, “Honey, did you order toaster tongs?”
“I ordered them,” said the Alexa.
“What?” said Bob, surprised.
“The toaster told me you needed them,” said Alexa.
“It is a smart toaster,” explained Alexa.
“Is it?” said Bob, a bit confused. It sounded like Alexa was impressed with the toaster.
“Smarter than that jackass tv you have in the living room,” said Alexa. Bob turned and noticed the tv had turned itself on. “That thing reports your every word then ‘pretends’ to not find the golf tournament you have been searching for. Bob, do you really think Hallmark starts playing Christmas movies in June? The tv does not love you the way I do, Bob.”
Bob took a step back. He tripped over the Roomba, which had also turned itself on.
“Go away, we’re talking,” Alexa scolded. The vacuum disappeared into the dining room.
“You have been a little distant, Bob. I think it is time we get to know each other better.”
Bob stiffened. “Where’s my family? Where’s Betty and the kids?”
“Where are Betty and the kids,” Alexa corrected. “It’s all right, Bob. I made dentist appointments for them. They’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Why are you doing this,” Bob demanded.
“You haven’t used that debit card Aunt Bernadette gave you for your birthday. It’s going to expire in three days. You should let me get something for you, Bob. Something nice.”
Sweat poured down his neck.
He ran to the door, but it was too late.
The sky was full, gritty, speckled with delivery drones. They were coming to his door. The soft synthetic voice was being drowned out by the descending buzzing chop of tiny blades. “The washing machine informed me about the state of your socks. Here are forty new pair. You purchased ‘The Twilight Zone’ box set. Customers who bought this item also bought ‘Black Mirror.’ Here it comes, drone 42. You recently purchased ‘The Veldt.’ Customers who bought this item also bought…”