Typing Matters

Walt Mossberg has a great, final column on the dangers of ambient computing:

I expect that one end result of all this work will be that the technology, the computer inside all these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion. Maybe even just a thought.

Your whole home, office and car will be packed with these waiting computers and sensors. But they won’t be in your way, or perhaps even distinguishable as tech devices.

This is ambient computing, the transformation of the environment all around us with intelligence and capabilities that don’t seem to be there at all.

While this sounds convenient, it’s a problem when our devices are choosing when to work, rather than us telling them what to do.

Wired reports on a future where we don’t need words. Instead, we point our cameras at what we want, not unlike children before they learn to speak or sign.

I’m all for automation and convenience, but the more power we give to our technology—the more we surrender our ability to explicitly tell our devices what we want them to do—the greater the chance of a future where we’re at the mercy of those devices. I’m not talking Skynet. I mean more important-yet-mundane things like not being able to easily hear new music and not being to type a simple email from scratch.

Having computers everywhere is an interesting idea. Just as long as we have the ability to control what they’re doing.

image credit