Autonomous Economic Agents in your home

Sep 28, 2018

In our second post on Autonomous Economic Agents (agents), we’re in a modern home to allow you to imagine how agents in and around your home will make your life not just easier, but seamless.

Your alarm has gone off.

With a grumble you remember you set this alarm behaviour some time ago. The alarm generally goes off at 6:43am, but not on a Sunday, or a Friday. Sometimes after a late night the alarm doesn’t go off. Your alarm is intelligent, and it’s controlled by an agent.

An agent on your watch tells you to check an important email, but you do not. It’s too early. Your personal agent is on your watch, this agent, your primary agent, is aware of every other agent you have and communicates with them. The agent on your alarm clock received instructions from your personal agent on when to awaken you.

Still grumbling; you get up. You slept in your clothes.

You walk downstairs, it’s still dark outside but internal lights have come on, not because you turned them on — your house doesn’t have light switches — but because the agent managing your lights has been to your location and the direction you’re traveling. The light agent is turning lights on, and off for you, saving you a lot of electricity.

As you enter the kitchen you flick the kettle on. You haven’t yet connected an agent to the kettle, but it’s on your to-do list. The kettle is powered from electricity your power agent bought in the night and this saved you 0.0014 Fetch Tokens compared to yesterday’s rate. Opening the fridge, you see you’re out of milk. You turn and walk to the front door, expecting a fresh delivery of milk.

Reaching the front door, the door unlocks.The agent controlling the locks to your house knows your location, and can enable and disable the locking mechanism as and when you are near. There is milk waiting for you on your doorstep. Not because milk deliveries are on a Tuesday morning, but because the agent in your fridge ordered you more milk. It was a new provider today, saving you 0.00037 Fetch tokens.

Back in the kitchen you get some cat food out of the fridge, and put it in the cat food bowl. The agent on the cat’s chip can be contacted to locate the cat if needs be, but you tend to let Sparkles get on with his day, he should be in soon.

You’ve made a cup of tea; it’s almost overflowing. Doing some kind of weird waddle to keep the tea confined to the cup, you make your way to the sofa in the living room. The TV turns on and shows the news. You had not turned the TV on but your agent contacted the agent on your TV to tell it to switch on. You always watch the news and the agent controlling the television knows this. This agent also knows to turn the channel to sport if a certain speaker comes on. You’re settled for some time, it’s a good cuppa. The milk went in first.

The outside temperature is around 2 degrees celsius, and internally it’s around 21. The agent in your house connected to your heating system will turn on the heating 22 minutes before you wake up. It takes 22 minutes to effectively heat the house. You did set the temperature a few times initially, eventually the agent on the meter learnt your temperature preference. You were a little erratic to begin with.

You haven’t quite got past the news yet, but you’ll have to shower soon and leave the house within 40 minutes. You know this, as the bus you need to catch leaves in 46 minutes — the agent on your watch just reminded you. The bus is on the first part of its journey, going from the hospital to the shops on that little corner. You can see its location in real time, as you can query the bus’ agent.

Heading to the bathroom shower, the bathroom light turns on. The TV in the living room turns off. You could have had the digital shower installed, but you didn’t, you like this older, battered bathtub and its accompanying shower. A pipe runs up from the faucet to a grand but leaky shower head that hangs a little unconvincingly. It should be replaced but it’s got great pressure and wide dispersion. You turn on the faucet yourself.

Steam fills the room, and the humidity rises. It cannot rise anymore. A few moments pass and the extractor fan turns on. There’s an agent on that too; as you like it a little steamy it doesn’t turn on straight away, even though the manufacturer would prefer that it did.

Getting out of the shower, the mirror has bright digits illuminating from beneath the glass pane. It doesn’t say too much; time, emails, that kind of thing. An important email is highlighted, but again you’ll read this on the bus. The bus’ expected arrival time is listed too.

The digitals of the mirror fade as you leave the bathroom, the light turns off too.

Heading to your bedroom to change, you hear the extractor fan slow down — it’ll turn off soon, once humidity is low enough.

Your bedroom light turns on as you enter, but no miracles, your bed is still unmade. You pull out the top you wish to wear for the day: you remember that advert for the autonomous tee shirt cannon, you laugh, but you’re still a little tempted by it.

As you finish changing and other bits, you hear a beep from the kitchen. The agent on your cat flap just let in Sparkles.

With a smile, you dash back to the kitchen tripping slightly as you pull up your jeans. Dashing through the house, your hallway and kitchen lights come on in sequence. He’s a bit of a messy cat, bushy hair, a bit scraggly and you’ve recently come to learn he’s a keen urban explorer. He comes back every morning to sleep in a recently vacated bed. He purrs when he sees you, occasionally followed by being sick. He likes to eat mice, and they make him sick.

Sparkles gets his morning cuddles.

Your watch beeps for your attention — the bus arrives in 9 minutes and you need to leave.

With Sparkles being well scratched, you go back to the front door, grabbing a coat as you leave the house.

As you start your walk to the bus stop, uncertainty comes over you; “Did I lock the windows? The front door? Is the fridge door shut?” You look at your phone, selecting the Fetch Wallet. Selecting your home agent, you ask…

“House lock status”
— “All locks engaged”

“Fridge status”
— “Door shut”
— “Internal temperature 2 degrees Celsius”
— “Milk at 920 grams”
— “Spinach, yoghurt and peppers likely to expire today”

“Where’s Sparkles”
— “In your bedroom, probably in your bed”

Agents are the front facing, problem-solving, life-changing aspect of Fetch that I lead development on. Agents are the malleable part of Fetch where you and I can create the future; where our agents will be working together to give predictive and advisory healthcare, or save you 13.0065912 Fetch tokens on your next grocery bill. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a lot more information on what an agent is, and how they will work in your life, in the digital world, industries and the physical world too.