Inspired by the U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Policy on Automated Vehicle Development, here is an example of a smartness scale for a technology that currently lacks any form of “smartness”, the refrigerator.
No-Automation (Level 0): The user is in complete control over the contents of the refrigerator, including the ability to put in or take out any item at any given point in time.
Function-specific Automation (Level 1): Automation at this level involves one or more specific control functions. Examples include automatic notifications a few days before a product expires and reminders to stock up on basic products such as dairy, vegetables and meat.
Combined Function Automation (Level 2): This level expects the refrigerator to be able to identify when the user is running low on groceries and automatically place orders for a specified supermarket. Moreover, the refrigerator also suggests products to help balance out the user’s diet and make informed decisions about nutrition.
Limited Automation (Level 3): Refrigerators at this level of automation are enabled by Artificial Intelligence to physically restrict access to food and drinks high in sugar or fat. The fridge locks itself with the latest fireproof safe technology after 7pm. It can only be unlocked by doing 30 burpees in front of the fridge. The fridge features a camera that uploads a snap of your face with a Burger King crown onto your Snapchat story. It also tweets at Shia LaBeouf any time you slack off and reach for something sweet.
Full Automation (Level 4): The refrigerator fully controls itself at this point. It features all of the above, plus a retina scan to make sure only the authorized users can open it. It keeps your nutrition history and predicts when you will resort to burpees once again, increasing the difficulty/number of reps each time. The fridge detects when a product goes bad and throws it out. It never actually opens in order to preserve energy. Instead, the door of the fridge is, in fact, a screen where the current contents of the fridge are displayed. Last, but not least, the fridge features a nutrition leaderboard among your friends and colleagues.