Robotic Toaster Sells Itself

Meet 'Brad', a toaster. Brad is a networked robotic toaster that demands to be used - or else he'll sell his services elsewhere.

(Meet Brad, the robotic toaster)

As a connected toaster, he's in constant contact with other connected toasters like him -- and thus keenly aware of how much action they're getting. If he's not being used as much as his friends, Brad gets upset. He'll wiggle his little handle to get your attention, begging you to make some toast or at least to give him a reassuring pat on the side. Ignore him long enough, and he'll take a more drastic measure: pinging a network of potential owners to find a new home.

[Italian designer Simone] Rebaudengo built a prototype... wiring five toasters with sensors and ethernet and programming them to keep track of how much the other four were being used. He coded a website where people could apply to be the 'host' for one of the toasters (ownership being a more fluid concept when toasters can pack up and leave -- or call UPS to get packed up, anyway.) Then he let them loose in the wild. Brad was installed at a co-working space in Shoreditch, London.

Philip K. Dick foresaw the era of robot salesmen of all kinds as long ago as 1954. In his eerily prophetic story Sales Pitch, he described the persistence of the robotic salesman that actually tries to sell itself:

"Get out of here," Morris said evenly. "Get out of my house and don't come back."

"I'm not your fasrad to order around. Until you've purchased me at the regular list price, I'm responsible only to Self-Regulating Android Inc. Their instructions were to the contrary; I'm to remain with you until you buy me."

"Suppose I never buy you?" Morris demanded...

"I'll continue to remain with you," the fasrad said, "eventually you'll buy me..."
(Read more about self-selling robotic salesman)

Update: Fans of the series Red Dwarf may also remember Talky Toaster. Watch this amusing encounter with Talky Toaster on Youtube.

I have too much stuff on my site; I actually covered the Talky Toaster artificially intelligent website in an article in 2009! (See Talkie Toaster AI Website - Would You Like Some Toast?.)

Thanks to Steven for sending in this comment. End update.

Via Wired UK.

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