If you’re in a room, and not reading this outside on a cold overcast day in York, take a look around. Astonishing isn’t it – just how primitive it all still is. Your seat probably doesn’t know what the temperature is. Your fridge probably doesn’t know how many eggs it contains. You probably even have to still turn on your lights manually. I thought this was the 21st century?
Certainly by, I would suggest, the middling part of this century, all that surrounds us will seem as primitive as a 16th century bedroom with a hole in the wall and a man with dysentery decomposing in the corner. How much has furniture actually progressed in the last sixty years? Beds are still beds; baths are still baths; unless you live in certain parts of Japan your toilet is still the same old inanimate victim of circumstance it always has been.
What exactly does the future supposedly hold then? Those wide eyed scienticians back in the 1950s envisaged we’d be regularly fornicating on the moon by now and those still down here on earth would be living lives of splendour in those ‘houses of the future’ which never quite materialised. The lingering presence of a Henry hoover in my downstairs cupboard is proof enough to me that things haven’t worked out quite as well as we were promised.
Until now. Well, now-ish, to be more accurate. Soon your fridge, your lighting, your televisions and radios, any utility you can think of really, will go the way of the phone. That is to say, marketers will put the word ‘smart’ in front of it and Samsung will connect it to the internet. Much of this technology is already available to those with enough money to waste.
So, what happens when somebody hacks into your fridge from a remote bedroom somewhere in Bulgaria? What happens when terrorists are able to control your toilet? Those ineffably essential components of the modern communicative age – the laptop, the webcam, have been found this week to be highly susceptible to remote hackery, and the human race is a strange old lot. People have already been found to hack into baby monitors to scream at two year olds – give some people the chance to hack a celebrity’s toilet and they’ll dance like Christmas has come early.
All of this does come somewhat under the rather sinister and generally deplorable category of scaremongering. Just because somebody might be able to hack your loo and have it flushing at will from the other side of the globe doesn’t mean that they will – but the more you contemplate the nature of the kind of people who could do such a thing, the more likely it seems that they would do such a thing. For now at least I’ll stick with a decidedly unintelligent toilet. I think it’s the smart thing to do.