If the Shoe Fits…

Pardon me for saying so, but your shoes are stupid.

I don't mean to say that your shoes look stupid, although what you were thinking when you wore that blue and pink pair out last week, I do not know. What I mean is that your shoes aren't very intelligent.

Adidas has announced that it has developed a “smart shoe.” This shoe contains a microprocessor and a tiny screw and cable system, which adjusts the cushioning provided by the shoe based on measurements of your size and stride. Three years of top secret research went into the making of the shoe, which company officials say “senses, understands and adapts.”

Now, this is very clever technology, and I can see where long distance runners, hikers, or even wait staff would have a need for a shoe that provides the ultimate in comfort in every step. However, I can't help thinking that there are better places for this sort of application.

For example, I would love for my coffee pot to sense, understand and adapt first thing in the morning, because goodness knows I can't. A truly intelligent pot would not only brew a fresh cup for me, but add the sugar and milk and bring it to me while I'm still struggling to figure out what day it is.

Our car could be a lot smarter than it is. I wouldn't mind if it could sense when someone is about to cut in front of me; it could do some pre-emptive honking to prevent the cut-off from happening altogether. Better yet, given gas prices lately, an intelligent car should be able to figure out how to convert itself to a hydrogen powered vehicle. It could honk at the gas station as we drove by, too.

My computer could be a heck of a lot brighter. I would love it if it would sense that the operating system was about to crash and well, not crash. It should be able to know that I am not interested in emails about cheap or forbidden software, hot stock tips, or discounted drugs. And the CD ROM tray really would be a cup holder — one that dispensed either hot tea or strong scotch, depending on the type of day you were having at the office.

While we're at it, why hasn't someone invested three years of top secret research into making smarter politicians? Consider my local provincial premiere, Dalton McGuinty, who's method for handling a $2.2 billion yearly deficit is to jack up driver's license fees by 50% — a move which will raise a whopping…$3 million per year. Surely a microprocessor, screw and cable system would be able to figure out that if you're going to gouge a taxpayer, you could at least make it count for something at the other end.

Finally, when it comes to things that sense, understand and adapt, I think I want something like that for my laundry system. A clever washing machine would sense that the hamper is overflowing, understand that I am no more interested in it today than I was yesterday, and adapt by coming upstairs to fetch the clothes. Furthermore, it would toss the washed clothes into the dryer and take them out and fold them at the right moment so that no ironing would ever be required.

I'd even let it wash my stupid shoes.

To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.

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