I am not an early adopter of technology, having to be pretty much driven by a strong need to acquire them. Hence I do not have a ‘smart’ home in which all manner of appliances are connected to the internet. Wi-fi and a ‘smart’ TV (i.e., one connected to the internet) are about it. When I see things like the Amazon Echo and Alexa that people have in their homes that they talk into to make purchases and run their devices, I wonder about the advisability of having a device that listens to everything you say and transmits it into the cloud. It is true that our phones can be hacked and turned into listening devices too but that takes some targeted effort on the part of some entity to do so. With smart homes, we are the ones enabling it.
But just this week I bought a timer for the light in the living room that is connected to the internet. The previous one was a mechanical one that worked fine but if the power went out for a while, the timing would be off. The switching of clocks from standard to daylight saving time required another shift. The widely varying amounts of daylight between winter and summer meant that in the summer the lights would come on when there was still a lot of daylight or in the winter it would not come on until well after dark. Hence it had to be constantly adjusted.
This was annoying so I bought a device that the lamp plugs into and is connected to the home wi-fi. I can set it to come on 30 minutes before sunset and go off at a fixed time, or any other setting I choose and the timer adjusts accordingly.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of one of my favorite films 2001: A Space Odyssey, the comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug looks at how all our homes might now have a HAL equivalent in them.