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What's the biggest challenge automakers face as they look to implement more computer control devices into cars?
Norman: They have implemented quite successfully the computerization of the engine...Anti-skid braking and stability controls are computer controlled and done very well.
The difference is when there's a control issue. When the car decides you're going too fast, drifting out of your lane...and starts exerting its own control, that's where the problems come...Lane keeping I think is a good thing, but use it as a warning device, not as a control device.
There are lots of cases where this so-called intelligence fails because it's not intelligence, it's guessing. So I am a fan of complete automation...This intermediate stage is what's dangerous. What if I'm deliberately drifting out of the lane?
You mean swerving around something? I'm trying to think of a situation where you wouldn't put your blinker on and drift.
Norman: Now come on, most people change lanes without signaling with their blinker.
Well, they should. Maybe consumers have to adapt in exchange for these conveniences?
Norman: What we really want is if the car is going to do it, fine, let the car do it, keep the person out of the way. Or if the person is going to do it, let the person do it and keep the car out of the way. In the automobile, you have an ill-trained driver with maybe a half-second to respond...So, no wonder the people would like to automate it. I think that's a good thing, but the in-between stages could make things more dangerous.
You talk about a cacophony of signals and a need for more natural warnings. Explain what you mean by that.
Norman: I was actually on a talk show this morning and they asked me the same question and it suddenly occurred to me what the perfect example was (pause...then loudly closes a door). What did you hear?
A bang? Maybe a door closing?
Norman: It wasn't "beep, beep, beep" that you knew means I closed the door. It just automatically was a bang of a door closing...as opposed to some engineer saying, "Oh! When we reach this stage, it's probably important, so I better signal the person and where can I find a really cheap signal?"
Many signals have nothing to do with anything whatsoever.
Norman: It's completely arbitrary and we have to learn it...At a hospital recently, I was standing in the hall talking to some physicians. Out of the speakers above our head was "beep, beep, beep" so I asked, "What do those sounds mean?" They said, "Oh, nobody knows so we just ignore them."
What do you do when you're dealing with the computer interface?
Norman: When I drop something in the trashcan both Apple and Microsoft now have a sound like you're crushing a piece of paper and dropping in the trashcan...Almost everything else could have natural displays or natural sounds. And not everything should be a sound by the way; sounds can be very annoying.
Paint for me what a high-tech house will look like in 2020.
Norman: The home in 2020, don't forget was built in what was built now. So a lot of the stuff would be kludged together.
Rather than talking about what my house would be like, I'll tell you what my life will be like. More and more of my time is spent rebooting my house. Today, you call in a carpenter, painter, drywaller, plumber, and electrician. Well, add to the list, your information and technology expert, automation expert, audiovisual television expert, and maybe even kitchen appliances expert.
Are we going to just accept, "Well, this is just what's going to happen if we want these things," or will this movement to make things that are less intrusive take off?
Norman: A lot of the things that we are frustrated by today will be perfected and work quietly and efficiently in the background, just like we really wish. But guess what? In 2020, there will be all sorts of new things--some of which we can't even imagine today--that will both delight us and frustrate us, that will offer great benefits and will continually fail, or be confusing or interact in strange ways. So, you want my definition of technology?
Norman: What is technology? It's what people build. Everything is technology. Your clothes are technology, your watch is technology, your house is...
I don't have a watch, but, OK.
Norman: Yeah. You use a cell phone.
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