Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The Self-Organizing Cabinet
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Imagine yourself in front of the Self-Organizing Cabinet. Open up the front door. Inside is a ten by ten array of what seem to be handleless drawers, and a computer terminal. You type into the computer: "rubberband." There are three results:

EXACT MATCH: Item #A3: rubberband, elastic (tagged by you, you're an all-business tagger)

CLOSE MATCH: Item #G9: elastic, rubber, blue, wide, snappy (tagged by your spouse, who's an enthusiastic tagger but always forgets that you tend to search for "rubberband" instead of "elastic"-- it doesn't matter, the computer has learned or been told that "rubberband" and "elastic" are similar)

POSSIBLE MATCH: Item #B10: rbbrbanx\d (tagged by a drunk person, but the spell checker figured it out)

Click whichever one you want, and the associated drawer automatically opens. Of course, when you want to put something in a drawer to keep for later, you have a little bit of work to do: Go up to the machine, tell it you want to fill a drawer, and think of a tag or two for the item you're putting in.

Next step: Create an enclosed closet of drawers, accessed by a robot arm which brings each container as you request it.

Go for some synergy: Tell the system that a drawer is dirty, and it'll transport it autonomously to an automated washing station.

How about some real profit: There are no results for "rubberband," but there are packages of rubberbands (measured and guaranteed by the system to fit in a particular box that's empty) available at a nearby distribution point for two dollars, shipped. Click OK. Come back in a few hours.


mungojelly, Jan 02 2006

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