Ever notice how some people get emotionally attached to their smart phones? It’s not new. People get emotionally attached to all kinds of inanimate objects, from cars to furniture to lucky Super Bowl shirts. There’s a new exhibit at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, which explores this phenomenon, specifically how people fall in love with technology.
In a sense, designing a computer program or a gadget or some other device to be user friendly is an art. When it’s done right, it almost feels like the machine knows us and knows exactly what we want it to do. Whereas machines with bad user interfaces tend to do exactly what we don’t want them to. Those are the ones we get mad at and shout at like a pet that keeps peeing on the carpet.
But when technology works right, when it’s easy to understand and easy to use, we openly talk about how much we love it. I for one love my iPhone. I know it’s an illusion; the phone doesn’t know me or what I’m thinking. It doesn’t know what I want or need. It’s the people who designed it who put a lot of thought into what their customers would want and need. That makes them artists in a way, and that’s why technology deserves a place at MoMA.
(Now for the science fiction part.) I love my iPhone. Maybe you love your smart phone, or your computer, or some other gadget you own. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. If someday machines develop emotions of their own, they might discover that humans already love them. Maybe, if humans and machines love each other, we’ll never have to live through the Terminator or Matrix movies in real life.