HIGHTOWER: Welcome to the "Smart Home"

Let's travel again into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into the totally networked, high-tech sphere of ... your own home. Ready or not, Motorola, Microsoft, Cisco, and other busybody companies have designs on the simple American bungalow, planning to wire it in such a way that will make our little homes slightly more complicated than the NASA Space Center.These companies, with the support of our tax dollars and major universities, are working doubletime to come up with a whole line of what they call [quote] "smart products." Take me now, God, my time has come.Cisco, for example, already has a prototype of a networked home in which the air conditioner, your home entertainment center, and your house lights can be adjusted from your web site, even from outside your home. Presumably, this will allow you to head home from work after having tapped into your office computer that you'd like the front porch light on, Montavani greeting you as you walk in the door, and a nice 70 degrees throughout the house.Motorola, which now touts itself as the "solution provider," says its smart-house electronics could unlock and open the front door as you approach with a load of groceries, or automatically let your dog out at night.This is all promoted as good news, but they're not fooling me, the reality is that we lose control of our own homes. How many "smart car" systems have set their own screeching alarms off in the middle of the night? And what are you going to do about the diabolical teenage mutant across the street who delights in hacking into your Web site from outside your home in the middle of the night, lowering your AC to 30 degrees, flashing your bedroom lights like an airport runway, opening your front door to let the raccoons in, and blasting the collected works of Englebert Humperdink through your sound system?This is Jim Hightower saying ... Spare me from these smart products and corporate progress.

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