Conversations with a Kettle (and other friendly household objects) (1996)

A house full of connected appliances that whisper & spread gossip

When placed in a domestic environment (in the midst of domestic sounds and events), it is possible that, given a sophisticated means of reacting to its internal representions of these, the computer controlled appliances could engage in "conversations" with nearby objects and other appliances.

For example, the devices may develop responses to a kettle whistling or a washing machine entering "spin" cycle. There is no reason that such "conversations" should be comprehensible to human beings, indeed, not being limited to oral response, the discourses may well be downright unpleasant to some people.

The kettle has an internal "representation" of its environment - its own conceived reality. It builds up a vocabulary of recurring sounds that it has encountered (sound input) and seeks to reciprocate (sound output) and start a conversation.

When positioned near a washing machine, it tries to communicate by outputting a similar sound. It may assume that the washing machine is responding when it goes into goes into the rinse cycle.

This is how rumours in a connected environment begin.

Conversations with a kettle

As the appliances build up more complex representations of their environments, including the occupants that inhabit them, they may begin to infer agency and sentience in humans; and they may attempt to share their opinions and experiences of those occupants.