Will the Internet of Things Make Us Dumb?
As CES wrapped in early January, all things shiny, cool and tech were on the top of many people's minds, from the consumers who want to buy them, to the journalists who write about them, and to the marketers who must, simply put, market them.
Even my publisher stopped by my desk to get my opinion on the Picobrew, given my experience as a homebrewer. While I still need to do more reading, I've had a tough time finding an explanation for how the device actually works and if it brews well, but I did find an article likening it to the Keurig of beer, and well, gross.
Picobrew aside (I swear Drew, I'll wrap up my research and get you a formal opinion by Spring at the latest), Smart Devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have been on my mind ever since seeing the following tweet from Sally Ekus, a cookbook-focused literary agent who I follow:
— Sally (@SallyEkus) January 7, 2016
I like tech. I love to cook. And I'm a millenial, so I clicked on Sally's link and dove into Allrecipe's "Measuring Cup Trend Report," (opens as a PDF) featuring information from its 2016 Smart Kitchen Survey.
Some of the report was pretty interesting, but a fair bit of the new IoT product information felt borderline absurd. Like this gem of a product:
Sereneti Cooki Robotic Chef
In the early stage of development, inexperienced cooks and busy, working families will love the convenience of having a robot such as Cooki do the cooking for them so hot, perfectly prepared meals are ready to eat the minute they arrive home.
You know what that's called? A slowcooker. Trust me, they're amazing. If you can't bear the idea of having a "dumb" one, don't worry. There's one with wifi that can be controlled with the WeMo app. Bon appétit.
Look, I know I'm coming off pretty curmudgeonly, which is a little upsetting since I just turned 34 last week. But why do we need a refrigerator with a built in tablet, speakers and camera that photographs the inside of the fridge every time you close the door?
What's wrong with having your tablet on the kitchen counter displaying the latest Pinterest-worthy recipe you're trying, music playing from your laptop on the table ... and yeah, sorry, no a photo of the inside of my fridge is not going to help me shop (you know, because items get placed in front of other items, blocking the view, oh nevermind I feel my blood pressure rising).
Let me repeat: I love tech. I find new technology exciting, but COME ON. What technologist dreamed of making a smart fridge? Where are the dreamers who want to innovate something that will push humanity into the new age?
I think we should ask ourselves if some of these new IoT devices are truly important — and thus worth putting our marketing minds behind — and which of these items are making consumers lazy, and yes, dumb. We already can't remember phone numbers because of our smart phones ... are we going to forget how to cook, or do anything that can be replaced with pushing a button?
It all sort of reminds me of something Dr. Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park:
Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.