Although it’s not Dr. Forbin’s Colossus (one of the first AI systems to attempt to destroy the world on film –note the “on film” please), it is quite irritating, and the result might eventually be the same: We recently replaced our oven – why? the computer went out on it. We recently replaced our washer — it was quite difficult to find a new washer without a computer in it, a computer that would be exposed to warm, wet vibrational conditions every day. We just disconnected the waterbath from our microcalorimeter – why? the on-board computer that controls the $ 3K water bath went out and kept shutting the whole $ 90K system down (what? a computer in a warm, wet environment? why would it have a problem?). It would have been nicer to be doing calorimetric experiments rather than troubleshooting this un-needed on-board computer problem for the past couple of days.
When I replaced my car, why did I get rid of the old one? the computer went out in it. When we performed microgravity experiments on NASA’s Vomit Comet with over $200,000 of equipment in the most equipment harsh environment I personally have yet worked, what was the only piece of equipment that had a problem? I wonder, could it be: the computer? It actually fried itself and blew a circuit breaker on the plane, in flight – thankfully they isolate the equipment power from the plane’s power.
We are creating tons of cast off home and lab appliances that are in perfectly good working order, except for the fact that the computer went out on them, and virtually no company on Earth makes replacement on-board computers for their appliances for more than a few years before they move on to their next model, and the next computer controlled appliance: Toaster? Blender? Why does my refrigerator have to have a computer in it? Obviously so that I’ll have to replace it in 2-3 years instead of 10. Some things need computer control, some things really just don’t. Destroying the world, one washing machine at a time.