Today’s lesson for hardware people, software people, architects, and mad scientists is brought to you by Ray Bradbury in the form of a short story called There Will Come Soft Rains. I recommend you follow this link and read a copy of the story, as it’s only a few pages long, and well done (but I already said it was Ray Bradbury, didn’t I?). The story, written in 1950, takes place in 2026 in a very modern, fully automated house, with all sorts of computers keeping its occupants fed, cleaned, entertained, and on schedule for work, school, and play.
Only there are no more occupants. Because there was a nuclear war, and they’re all ashes. The house (the last house standing), in it’s quite-less-than-infinite wisdom, has not caught on to this. So it prepares eggs and pancakes for breakfast, and provides entertainment in the nursery, and defends itself from the few birds and animals that may approach it, and fleets of mechanical robots diligently clean up any dirt that gets in the house and dispose of the uneaten food. In short, this system has insufficient connection to the world it interfaces with, and too few checks on expected responses, to know that something is horribly wrong.