What Me, CES?

I swear, I did not trip over the plug that shut off the lights at CES for a few hours.  I am not even in Las Vegas, although it seems as if just about everyone else I know is. I'm not sure why most of them are there, other than as an excuse to get off the East Coast and warm up.

I've read lots of coverage of CES, and so far there seems to be little news -- unless you're into little robots or smart appliances or cars that will soon be your best friend when no one else will be.

Soon nothing will have an on/off button, but can only be "activated" (a word that should have been banned from the industry years ago) by your voice. Which means  you could trip over one of the shoes your kid always kicks off and leaves in the kitchen, yell out a profanity -- and suddenly wake up 17 appliances sounding like a congress of angry Eastern European diplomats, as they compete to tell you what is missing from the fridge, the coffee maker and the dishwasher. "Shut up" has already become my most-used command, and right now it's only to Alexa, who can't get much right but the weather.



My car is already supposed to take voice commands, but it doesn't. Frankly, while I can be a lazy as the next Southerner, it's not that onerous a task to change the radio station by reaching over and pushing a button. I supposed I could be dictating replies to emails that are read to me -- but drivers who do that scare me every bit as much as a teenager on a cell phone, when I walk along local roads. (Although I leap behind the nearest mail box or tree when I see a pissed-off housewife yelling into her speakerphone. That's like watching an artillery shell arcing right for your foxhole.)

I think most Japanese have a screw loose somewhere, because they keep creating these mechanical pets. While I'm sure it's a relief not to have to take the Cyron3 out in 5 degree cold to do its business on your snow-covered lawn, there's nothing like the reaction you get from a long scratch under your dog's chin or behind its ear to let you think for a moment that all is right with the world. Assuming, of course, you are not reading the Michael Wolff book at the same sitting.

It's said there are more than 800 startups exhibiting at CES this year. 550 of them are apps that attach a contract to a just-taken picture reading "I, the women in the pix, am of sound mind and body and consent without reservation or reserve to some sort of sexual contact with the owner of this device." Once signature-stamped, it is moved to a blockchain that will hold it until required by an employer or court.

The other 250 promise to deliver the right ad to the right person at the right time.  So far, the only meetings they can get are with each other.

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