Science fiction is littered with sentient, omnipresent computers that respond to voice commands. From the fatally flawed HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the cool, confident Starship Enterprise computer to the snarky, easily distracted Heart of Gold computer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, humans have imagined anthropomorphic computers that hear all, know all and control all.
As a society, we have grown accustomed to straight-line trajectories for technology: from concept to practical application, relentless performance improvement, and finally to maturity. The internal-combustion engine, personal computer, and smartphone have all followed this path, and have consistently lived up to whatever hype has been generated around them. It’s so common that we forget that not every technology follows this trajectory.