When we can order supplies from an Internet supplier with a verbal command, pre-program washing machines and dishwashers to start cycles at a certain time, and have small robots clean floors for us, today’s houses are starting to sound like a science fiction story.
This past Christmas my husband gifted me with an Alexa Dot, a device that, with a verbal command, will give the speaker updates on weather or notes on personal calendars, play music from an Amazon account or other Wi-Fi sources, connect to blue tooth devices, and a whole list of functions that can be downloaded.
This little gadget is only one more example of the amazing inventions that have come to pass, and the level of technology that is now commonplace at home. We now have programmable thermostats and security systems that can be controlled from a smartphone. We are being spoilt by devices that can record our favorite TV shows, pay for our gas with a wave of a piece of plastic the size of a thumb, and give us satellite data about current traffic conditions.
Ray Bradbury’s prophetic short story, “August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains,” published originally in 1950, tells of a house that was so automated that it continued performing duties for a family no longer around to appreciate it. Today, we are very close to achieving the level of automation in our homes that Bradbury envisioned, though hopefully our future will not be as bleak as in the story!
“In the living room the voice-clock sang, Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o’clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would. The morning house lay empty.”
A house that could potentially run itself is probably not that far off in the future, certainly something I could see in our lifetimes. The question is, how will we manage? What will we do to fill our spare time when we no longer have “housework” to do, because the house takes care of it for us?
Will we become so reliant on our technology that we can no longer function without it, or will we use our free time to become more productive, more creative, and more capable in other endeavors?
I welcome your thoughts on this subject; it is hard to dispute though that we are living in interesting times.
p.s. there is a YouTube video of Leonard Nimoy reading this classic story, just follow the link here: https://youtu.be/LzhlU8rXgHc