Robot love affairs: the dark side

Product design guru Donald Norman looks at this year's crop of "smart" machines in this NY Times article, and reminds us why future robot sex ain't all it's hacked up to be:

Until recently, Dr. Norman believed in the favorite tool of couples therapists: better dialogue. But he has concluded that dialogue isn't the answer, because we're too different from the machines.
You can't explain to your car's navigation system why you dislike its short, efficient route because the scenery is ugly. Your refrigerator may soon know exactly what food it contains, what you've already eaten today and what your calorie limit is, but it won't be capable of an intelligent dialogue about your need for that piece of cheesecake.

This is like the Woody Allen version of robot relationships. Plus, it's hard to set a mood when the robot controls the lighting:

As he watched our window shades mysteriously lowering themselves, having detected some change in cloud cover that eluded us, Dr. Norman recalled the fight that he and his colleagues at Northwestern waged against the computerized shades that kept letting sunlight glare on their computer screens.
"It took us a year and a half to get the administration to let us control the shades in our own offices," he said. "Badly designed so-called intelligent technology makes us feel out of control, helpless. No wonder we hate it."

I have exactly the same problem with a motion-sensing light control in my office. I have to do some kind of Morris dance around the room to get the light to stay on for more than 10 minutes!

Just wait until the robot gets the TV remote.