working on sofa

Ikea is looking at the idea of talking furniture – has this one got legs, or is it likely to fall as flat as one of its packs?

So far – sofa geddit – so easy. Our smart phone talks to us, Amazon has its Echo, there is Google Home but a talking sofa – really?

On the other hand, it might be able to tell if it’s got a fiver stuck in its insides.

But actually, there is a bit more to the idea that this. It won’t be so much a chat with your armchair about the weather, more about whether you want the lights dimmed, or the heating turned -up.

And at this stage it is just an idea, maybe not even that, just a survey.

Ikea is conducting a survey via its Copenhagen based innovation centre – lab SPACE10

‘SPACE10 are curious to learn how you feel about artificial intelligence and how you would like your personal AI to be’ begins the survey, and then it asks whether you want AI to be robot or human like, whether its voice should be female, male or gender neutral – whatever a gender-neutral voice sounds like.

It turns out that 75 per cent of respondents so far think AI should be robotic, rather than human, gender neutral voice is proving more popular than male or female, 69 per cent think your AI should reflect your worldview. 44 per cent think your personal AI should be obedient and assisting, 31 per cent motherly and protective and 25 per cent autonomous and challenging.

Find out more for yourself here.

Here are a couple of observations

Henry Ford, supposedly once said “if you ask people what they want they will say faster horses.”

Truth is, right now people don’t have a clue what kind of AI they want.

But let’s say you think your AI should reflect your worldview. Now it is not hard to imagine most people wanting this, and yet this is so dangerous. If this does indeed happen, AI will just reflect our biases, confirm our existing beliefs, and pretty much tell us what we want it to tell us – so whatever your worldview is, it will never be questioned.

What would be great is an anti-fake news armchair – one that tells you every time the little people in the TV spurt out a lie.

Still, at least it is something George Orwell never envisaged – Big Brother is watching you proclaimed 1984 – instead we may end up with big brother is having a row with the settee.