Sony has big ideas, some of which are scary. The Playstation 3, for example, will most likely have a built-in camera: the optional one for the PS2 has been a stunning success and the technology is good enough to do things like merge pictures of players with game action. But that's not enough for Sony, which has declared that the PS3 will not only be able to capture player images but do facial and gesture recognition well enough to read player emotion.
I do not want household objects that know when I'm in a bad temper. If I want them to share in my mood, I'll hurl them bodily across the room. And what's the point in getting a call from your nearest and dearest and going to all the effort to be nice and happy to them on the blower, if the bleeding videogame pipes up and says: "He was in a right hump five minutes ago. You be nice to him."
I'm prepared to compromise on the gesture recognition. If my answering machine coughs discreetly and says: "Your editor is on line one, oh great master", I'll be happy if it knows to convert the gesture I will then make into an "I'm sorry, Rupert's not here at the moment" message. (I'll remember that - Ed.) Likewise, lights that come on with an airy wave of the hand, bathroom radios that tune away from the Archers when I shake my fist at them, and TV receivers that know to seek out and display any Carry On movie playing when I grasp my right bicep with my left hand and vigorously pump upwards.
But emotions? Leave it out. Otherwise we'll end up with the geniuses behind the Office Paperclip creating pocket psychoanalysts who pop up and say "Why the long face? Do you want to talk about it?" when we're just contemplating whether to smash our Windows system disks into tiny pieces, or just throw them on the fire. It'll trigger the great reaction against technology, you mark my words.