The Smart House

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Prescient as it was, Smart House 's purpose wasn't to predict the future of technology. It was to capture the mixture of feelings—excitement, curiosity, and fear—about living with intelligent machines the first time. In the film's climax, Sara comes over to shut down the system—only to have Pat reawaken on its own, re-create itself as a hologram, and then replicate into many holograms before turning into a literal tornado.

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It's Disney Channel, just go with it. Sara offers a look of exasperation. The system, in other words, overpowers the engineer.

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Then, implausibly, Pat realizes that it isn't human and turns itself off, reverting back to the helpful assistant it once was. The message at the end is clear: The problem wasn't that the house was smart.

Smart House – Intelligent Home with Internet of Things – Introduction

It was that it tried to isolate the Coopers, and replace the humans they loved. Others have looked back on Smart House and praised the way it "predicted" the future. Indeed, we now have smart lights, connected thermostats, and alarm clocks personalized to our sleep stages, just as Pat did. LeVar Burton, who directed the film, calls it "a clear and obvious precursor to all of the AI and connected devices and programs" in our homes today. And that after all, that was what Pat was all about.

But in some ways, that reflection misses the point.

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By , popular culture's view of technology had already turned a shade skeptical see: The Matrix but there was still optimism about finding the soul in the machine. It would still be five years before the founding of Facebook, and seven years before the creation of Twitter; there were no smartphones, let alone the fear of children developing horns in the back of their heads from too much screen time. Smart House offers warnings about how we design our personal technology, but it does so without fear.

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And in the end, it offers some hope that there's a balance to be found in centering the stuff we build around the people who use it—rather than the other way around. Not every part of Smart House has aged well. Sara, who is surely the brightest mind in Monroe County, gets flattened into a love interest by the end of the film.

The sexism is present from the very first scene, when Sara opens the newspaper to find an article about her smart house creation. Still, even 20 years after its debut, Smart House skillfully shows that technology does what we ask of it. Woe to those who ask for the wrong thing. Related Stories. Buying Guide. Jeffrey Van Camp. Lily Hay Newman.

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Gloria Dickie. Tom Simonite. Arielle Pardes is a senior associate editor at WIRED, where she works on stories about our relationship to our technology. Previously she was a senior editor for VICE. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and lives in San Francisco. View Photos. Superhosts are experienced, highly rated hosts who are committed to providing great stays for guests.

Read more about the space. Contact host. Show all 33 amenities. Entire place. Sleeping arrangements. Smart house was a great, charmingly simple and clean place to stay in a great location!

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Such a wonderful place! Andrea was extremely helpful and was always quick to respond.

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The smart house was perfect! The place is lovely and so close to the beach.


Brilliant spot. We had a fantastic trip and the host was brilliant at responding to our queries about the area. Nice clean place, VERY close to the beach and in-between local villages. I would recommend it! This place is great if you want value for money as compared to other apartments in the area, this place is very reasonably priced for a good sized space.

The apartment is amazingly located between Rapallo and Santa margarita and close to portofino. We stayed here for one night and was very comfortable and extra clean.