[Update: This article was published in VentureBeat on 4/19/15]
We all have smart products that go awry. Up until a few months ago, for example, Netflix didn’t allow the creation of different profiles, so the recommendations in my house were a strange collection based on the amalgamated viewing tastes of my wife, my two teenage daughters, my 11-year old son, and me.
This becomes particularly annoying as apps jump into the physical world and control devices. We all have experience with devices whose supposedly smart behavior turns out to be inappropriate at the time – and we end up shutting down the “intelligent” features to use them manually (or the devices end up at the bottom of a drawer).
The issue is that smart products today jump to conclusions too easily: they go from sensing to acting in one step. In the rush to get products out to market, many vendors trivialize the complexities of the real world and create products that use very basic reasoning. Most of the time, they don’t even let users participate actively in the decisions being made.