Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being promoted as the next revolution in modern society. A disruptive technology to improve our lives and augment our existence. Autonomous cars are being tested which improving success. Cognitive Augmentation is positioned as increasing our analytical capabilities to solve problems. Yet, I remain skeptical until AI solves one of my life’s most important domestic difficulties.
Since the end of the second World War, an endless development of domestic improvement technologies were introduced. Countless new appliances were advertised to allow the people to be more efficient, have more time, or make it easier. Automatic everything was the key word; from automatic dishwashers, washing machines, and cars.
Once affordable electronics were available, programmed ovens, micro-wave ovens, thermostats became affordable. Better entertainment technology blossomed with radio, television, video, and even programmable water sprinklers. It seemed all sorts of problems could be solved. Even today as I look at my toaster, it has a “cancel” button which indicates the extent of computer influenced technology in even the simplest appliance.
Yet… yet… with all these advances, there is one problem that technology has yet to solve for me. You see, I am hopelessly challenged in the art of domestic origami. Yes, folks, I can’t fold a towel properly no matter how much I try. Much to my sweetheart’s despair and chagrin, folding anything is just not in my DNA.
If I can’t fold a towel, image my absolute failure in attempting to fold a fitted sheet. It ends up a rolled mess – which I then stuff into the laundry closet. Upon discovery by my sweetheart, she grunts with disgust. Of course, in my mind it seems futile to me to fold anything that is not in public view. This includes socks, underwear, and sheets. Nonetheless, folding has been a focused domestic tension for 37 years. In my opinion, many marriage issues could be saved if a machine to fold clothes could be commercial available.
So why can’t AI solve this problem? Some attempts have been made at the Consumer Electronic Show with very limited results. Success has been limited to colorful T-shirts. One T-shirt can take 15 minutes to fold. This is because clothing identification and determining the best way to fold them is a difficult task. The variety of clothing, fabric, fashion, handling, along with large sheets and towels, are virtually endless. Cotton folds differently than silk and wool. A woman’s shirt is different than a man’s.
I posit that proper domestic origami is more difficult that autonomous cars. Cars follow a universal set of rules of the road. Scenarios can be devised for various conditions and factors. All somewhat predicable to a certain extent and therefore prime for machine learning.
Fashion exists to make men and especially women have options to how clothing fits and makes them look best to their taste. We all have different tastes and body shapes. I contend that fashion is therefore more varied and less predictable. A new lace bra lands in the folding device and now what will it do? Specialty fabric – forget it. Belts? Buttons? Leather?
Until AI solves this problem, I remain stuck in my frustrating attempts at domestic origami. I can only dream of the day when I can purchase an AI appliance to fold domestic fabrics of all kinds. Only then can I achieve ultimate improvement in household chores. Only then can I say AI has arrived to improve my life.