|Hal 9000, from the film 2001 a Space Odyssey|
Terms such as smart and artificial intelligence are being abused lately. Let’s look at some recent news that have appeared in various media:
- Smart benches with solar energy free mobile charge, and access to Wi-Fi. These public street benches, installed in London by Ford, incorporate a Wi-Fi repeater and a solar plate that gives them power to charge a mobile phone battery. Where is the intelligence in the bench? Nowhere. The intelligence belongs to the human being who invented these devices. In a similar case, we would be saying that our houses are smart because they have electricity and an Internet connection.
- China implements smart trash cans. In this case the waste bin also incorporates a solar panel connected to a mobile phone charger. In the future they will also have a Wi-Fi repeater and a device to disinfect the garbage with ultraviolet rays. As in the previous case, the mere presence of an electrical or electronic device is confused with intelligence.
- Goodyear tests a tire that predicts when it must be changed. The tire has a built-in wireless sensor that detects when it needs to be replaced and issues the corresponding warning. Although this case is somewhat more complex than the previous two, something is again called smart when it isn’t. To implement this, you just need a sensor and a simple electronic device, more or less equivalent to those radio devices that since decades have been incorporated to wild animals, to follow their displacements and watch their activities.
As you can see, what is now called smart is just what was formerly called automatic. But of course, the word smart is more appealing, that’s why it’s being abused. In the same way, there is a tendency to call artificial intelligence what formerly was called computer science.