The examples described in the news story above are probably familiar to all of us: ‘Who’s going to take out the trash?’ was one of them. Or: ‘whose turn is it to clean the bathroom?’. The tendency to have these thoughts seem to somewhat limit us as humans. And often, I suppose, it’s simply a matter of who’s ‘right’ about something.
So back to my dinner experience. There was a wild discussion about whether – I forget what – is healthy for the dog or not. Everyone at the table had read something different. Everyone knew for sure. Even my youngest, at three years old, had an opinion. At some point, someone had the idea to ask a certain electronic device that has an answer for (almost) everything. Let’s call it Alexa, Siri or Bixby.
The voice had an answer ready within a few seconds and the heated discussion, which could also be called an annoying argument, came suddenly to an end. Everyone was satisfied and believed the voice. She had to know, because she had access to the knowledge of the whole planet. But perhaps more importantly, the voice was a completely neutral participant in our dispute – without ego or pride. Alexa, Siri and Bixby don’t care if they are right – or wrong. A crazy thought occurred to me. Could it be possible that the household robot we are developing at Neura could have a use that we haven’t even thought of yet? At Neura, we always think of the annoying and boring everyday tasks that a household robot will soon take away from us: bathroom cleaning and tidying up, for example. And now I realize that such a robot also has the potential to be a dispute mediator or – to put it in highly scientific terms – a mediator for us humans.
So maybe we’re not just developing a practical helper for everyday life, maybe we’re also contributing to people arguing less and relationships lasting longer. I find myself smiling contentedly and looking forward to the future as our plane breaks through the cloud cover and I can gaze into the expanse of a beautiful blue sky. Now I can finally get on with my work.