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Chapter 52. Future Faces > Soft Seduction

Soft Seduction

Everything old is new again. Remember those treacly “user-friendly” interfaces that greeted you by name and told you to have a nice day even though you made a boo-boo and entered an improper date? A few of the GUI gurus who didn't get the point are now going one better, proposing “seductive interfaces,” interfaces for mass markets that present the computer as friend, as pal, as partner. But do you want your computer to be a pal, or would you rather it just helped get things done?

These fantasized interfaces do not depend on any elusive artificial intelligence, at least not the authentic article pursued by computer scientists. Seductive interfaces are a marketing ploy to make software irresistible. The friendship is feigned and the seduction is simulated by customizing the interface to the personality of the customer. One audacious designer claims the programming is straightforward, since there only four different personalities anyway and everything you need to know about a person can be gleaned from about twenty questions. The last time I looked, there were at least twenty theories of personality and most all of them were more complex than this.


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