Help, the Roomba’s after me!

When your home appliance goes rogue

Now that we’re all connected on the internet of everything, together with our cars, homes, robots, and city amenities, it’s bound to happen that things sometimes go wrong. But whoever heard of someone being attacked by their washing machine? In a recent spate of 911 calls, the caller has identified the assailant as … a machine.

Most of us have seen that movie, where the super-smart robot, in an attempt to protect itself, becomes a potential threat to people, and society. But sometimes it’s a bit close to home. We’ve got smart wearables, and smart speakers, appliances with fuzzy logic, garden robots, and smart homes. Our cars are packed with artificial intelligence, and our smart streets connect with smart suburbs to create a smart city.

Which is great when everything is working properly. Roger Kaputnik, coming home unexpectedly after one too many at the local watering hole, was temporarily disabled by his own home security system. His erratic behaviour was identified by the scanners as a ‘potential intruder’ and, when he tried the wrong access code, he was stunned by an ‘appropriate’ electric shock.

In another incident, the female caller claimed she had been deliberately chased into the bathroom and trapped there by the cleaning robot, which she said was “out to get me” since the day it was installed. We all know the story of the Jeep that was hacked, but how about a Model E that trashed the front lawn – all on its own?

Everything from the microwave to the coffee machine is now controlled by microchips, and they’re all connected. It’s not small potatoes; consumer technology is now a trillion-dollar business. But machine logic isn’t always the same as human reasoning. So, remember to check that all the water has drained from the washing machine before you say, in a commanding voice: “Open the door, Sam!”

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.