So, I happened to catch some of Clear and Present Danger on AMC (actually it's still on now, and they are continuing to show us how technology doesn't work). Harrison Ford asks some young guy to hack into a system, and when the guy start programming he looks over to the wall at some bizarre mechanical disc-fetching computer system and anthropomorphises some, "all right baby, you ready?" kind of shit while the computer's robot arms moves around happily. It got me to thinking.
Lately there's been a lot of focus on how we react to anthropomorphised objects. Most recently you have the burping trash can, but more interesting was the research with a robot head named Kismet that could imitate human emotion and the study of our reactions to this robot head. It turns out we cared about it, and were interested in it, much more than we were a robot without human characteristics. Then there's those Japanese cars that can smile and frown.
I have a million projects, and I don't work on them nearly as much as I should. Maybe I'd spend more time programming on my computer if my computer anthropomorphised being angry or sad if I didn't give it attention in the form of programming? Why stop there? Maybe each program/activity on the computer could be made human enough that I'd give them proper attention. Writing a paper, paying bills, checking email, coding some PHP, marking up some web pages...
I need a hardware geek to help me on this. It would have to be an external interface. Something that could maintain that it was pissed at you even if your monitor is dark because you've been away from the keyboard all day. I think it would have to combine positive and negative reinforcement. So, first of all it would have to express anger or sadness if you weren't doing what you were supposed to do in such a human-enough way that you'd actually feel guilty. Secondly, and I feel equally as importantly, while you were doing whatever it was that would make your computer happy again, your computer should give you positive reinforcement by being cute... animated... something.
This could be a potential thesis for me.
Or maybe you just need a girlfriend who has a nerd fetish and likes to watch you... um... program.
That's why my server crashes every few hours -- because it is angry with me for not paying attention to it. You know what, I'M SORRY THAT I HAVE TO SLEEP!