In an article published in Technoetic Arts last year, Stephen A. Gage (Bartlett School of Architecture) and Will Thorne (University College London) describe a hypothetical fleet of “edge monkeys”. The small robots would patrol building facades, regulating energy usage and indoor conditions.
Basic duties include closing unattended windows, checking thermostats, and adjusting blinds. But the machines would also “gesture meaningfully to internal occupants” when building users are clearly wasting energy, and they are described as “intrinsically delightful and funny.” The robots would be part of a design strategy that encourages a bottom-up approach to environmental control. Thorn and Gage liken the relationship between edge monkey and human to that of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster characters. Jeeves’s aim is always to modify Wooster’s behavior so that it is more sensible. And we need all the persuasion we can get to modify our behavior before the planet is severely compromised.
I love the idea of edge monkeys, although i’m not sure that i would pay much attention to their “meaningful” gestures after some time and having something that closes windows and adjusts thermostats for me wouldn’t make me more eco-conscious.