On the future ubiquity of sensors and knowing stuff…

Dear Marcus

Today I got a new insight (Yep, it still happens!): 

It seems, whenever we put on the kettle to heat water for morning tea, that the dog gets hungry 10 minutes after. But -that’s not the insight. That’s just Pavlovian routine… The insight is; the thermostat turns up the heat, and the boiler starts working, the minute the kettle is on. 

I set up most of the sensors in the house. I have movement sensors, water sensors, temperature sensors, audio and video sensors, humidity sensors – the works! I got the 400$-mix pack from Home Depot and more or less just spread them around the house and hooked them up to the house system.

The interesting thing is, five months ago, I asked our house-system to make sure the heating and hot water was on, whenever we got up. I thought that the movement sensor in the living room or kitchen would provide the house-system with sufficient data for that. But now it seems that the system uses the turning on of the kettle as an indicator instead. 

It makes sense, of course. With the dog mulling about at odd hours in the night, me or the wife doing a toilet run every once in a while and teenage kids getting in late at night, room sensors might be way to uncertain.

The morning tea, though, is a dead giveaway. And with the power-sensor that monitors use of all appliances, it makes sense, that the house-system would use that as indicative for a house that’s about to get up and on with it. 

I guess we all get more and more used to the fact, that a lot of things in our everyday life are automatically matched to our needs and wants. One thing to think about, though, is what we’ll do the day something is not functioning the way we want it too – and we don’t know how to fix it, because we don’t know what stimuli are falsely connected to some automated behavior. Psychologists call this superstitious behavior – which happens when you connect some outcome to a wrong action, just because there was some temporal correlation (but in reality no causal relation) between them. 

Who would want their house to be superstitious? 


Morten W.

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