Bad doors and bad design are everywhere.

We need more people who care so deeply about good design.

Don Norman started complaining about doors over 25 years ago. Doors shouldn’t need instructions – the shape of them can guide you through just fine. So why do so many doors need instruction manuals right on the side of them?

When most people complain about something, nothing happens. Don Norman is not most people – he’s a psychologist and cognitive scientist. Don Norman thought about, and wrote about his complaints so incredibly thoroughly that he changed the world.

Porsche’s Addiction Correlation

I think this very nice video from Porsche exploring the emotion behind the brand. Making a Porsche not just owning a car but providing yourself a reward. Though there is a horrible correlation / causation error in the voice over. However in the behind the scenes video it is clearly explained it is a correlation. I guess commercials don’t leave any room for nuance.

Behind the scenes (in Dutch)

Tesla Summon – Disrupting the Disruptors

Self driving cars are not enough anymore, or at least that might be the line of thinking within Tesla. Why have car drive you, why not just let a car drive from A to B. Of course this might be less disruptive than it sounds. However you could imagine that it takes the burden of a lot of things. Or as Tesla themselves describe it:

Using Summon, once you arrive home and exit Model S or Model X, you can prompt it to do the rest: open your garage door, enter your garage, park itself, and shut down. In the morning, you wake up, walk out the front door, and summon your car. It will open the garage door and come to greet you. More broadly, Summon also eliminates the burden of having to squeeze in and out of tight parking spots.

Which is brilliant of course. You could also think of a scheduling option that as soon you reach your destination and you let your Tesla to find a charging station and charge itself. Removing that burden as well. Since of course it is a needless burden to charge an intelligent car and it would make the experience a little bit more magical. If it is about saving time, summon is obvious. You could imagine that the concept of a drive-through restaurant changes in a pick up restaurant where the Tesla drives by to pick up the meal, pays by passing through sensors and gets the meal to you in a timely manner.

Disrupting the disruptors

For me this is just common sense, go from self driving with a human to completely autonomous driving to completing tasks that don’t require human assistance. However the really disruptive part would be if Teslas would become part of a smart swarm, imagine you are a Tesla owner and you have a party with 8 of your friends. Now you most likely would either go for ordering multiple (or a big) Uber of Lyft or a similar service, or go by public transport. Imagine if you could summon a backup Tesla to get you from A to B. So you can not only use your own car, you can use available cars in the group of Teslas around you. Of course there needs to be an attractive business model around this for me as a Tesla owner. However if Tesla ownership means that you can always summon and use your Tesla at the moments you need it and offer it to others when you don’t need it (and get something in return) and for others it means that they can use a Tesla even though they don’t have to own one. It might be the thing that disrupts Uber or if Uber handles smartly the one thing that even strengthens its position.

However if you don’t own a Tesla you cannot drive in it, it will drive you from A to B. The benefit from owning one, is that you can pretend you know how to drive and disregard the intelligent capabilities of your car, having the nostalgic feeling of driving a car, just like in the old days.

The unintended consequences of innovations

In the slums of the future, virtual reality junkies satisfy their violent impulses in online entertainment. An expert player discovers that the line between games and reality is starting to fade away.

When technology is an abstraction or becomes more hidden than there can be unintended consequences. It is too easy to say that things as shown in the video below won’t happen. Though think about this: when you are working on a task on Mechanical Turk are you working to help a student with his thesis or working on a task for an oppressive regime, when entering some words to match a difficult to read text in a Captcha are you just matching something to proof you are not a bot or are you translating a book with dubious content? It is sometimes hard to discover what actually happens with your input.

We should strive to make sure these unintended consequences won’t happen. Of course not every technology will end up the be new Skynet, though as every new technology (and old technology as well) has upsides we need be wary of potential downsides as well. For me understanding the potential challenges that a new technology brings helps me to understand the potential upsides a lot better.

The short film below (Uncanny Valley) shows what could be the dark side of Virtual Reality. If the topic of unintended consequences of technology interests you I would also recommend the British television series Black Mirror which is created by Charlie Brooker.

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