Too Smart for Their Own Good
I remember watching The Jetsons when I was a young girl and thinking their kitchen was so "cool." (Modern translation translation, "phat.") George Jetson would go to the kitchen, push a button, and his dinner would slide onto the table piping hot. This left his wife plenty of time to keep the kids, the dog, and the robot out of intergalactic trouble. It seemed like a great idea Ė a kitchen that was smart enough to prepare anything you wanted without reminding you how bad it was for your cholesterol level. I decided that when I grew up Iíd have a kitchen like that.
Unfortunately, the Jetsonís kitchen is still science fiction. But individual kitchen appliances keep getting smarter and smarter. I know this is true because on a recent visit to a local appliance showroom, a salesperson pointed out tags on each appliance that indicated their energy savings and their SAT scores. The $1200 dryer that caught my eye was actually a member of MENSA.
Kitchen appliances are more intelligent these days because they all have computer chips implanted in them. As a result, you can, for example, get a dishwasher that "senses" how dirty a load of dishes is and adjusts the temperature and length of the wash cycle in response. Now thatís smart. Nine times out of ten when I open my dishwasher, I canít even "sense" whether the dishes in there are clean or dirty. I have to rely on my manual back-up system Ė I hold a fork up in front of my husbandís nose and ask, "Does this look clean to you?"
I also wouldnít want to match wits with the oven that has its
own recipes programmed in. Iíd probably end up arguing with it. "I donít care what you say, I like more
chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies!" Of course it would probably punish me for doing things my
own way by burning everything and refusing to clean itself. Iíve already got an oven that does that, and I didnít
have to spend $900 for it!
Yes, kitchen science keeps moving forward. Did you know that scientists at MIT are trying to invent a kitchen counter that will tell you how to cook? Hey, isnít that what mother-in-laws are for? Iím not making this up. I read an article about the talking countertops in the newspaper. It included quotes from several of the scientists working on the project. They were all young guys who were apparently tired of eating cold spaghetti out of a can. So far, the scientists have programmed their prototype kitchen counter to advise: "Heat the spaghetti before serving." Of course these instructions are also on the label, but hey, even scientists are too busy to read these days.
With all this money being spent to increase the intellect of
kitchen appliances, Iíd like to put in a few of my own requests. Iíd like a self-cleaning refrigerator that automatically
tosses stuff in the trash when itís two weeks past its expiration date. Iíd like a microwave oven that can help
me with my taxes (after all, itís got all those numbers on its keypad.) But, most of all, Iíd like all my appliances
to automatically dial the repairman when theyíre broken and wait from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for him to show up Ė the
© 1998 LA Jasheway
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