IKEA Wants to Know If You'd Like to Talk to Your Couch

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has long been praised for its smart furniture design, but now it wants to make its furniture a little smarter.

The company’s advanced research lab, SPACE10 (motto: “investigating the future of living”), has launched a worldwide survey, aptly titled “Do You Speak Human?” to answer the sorts of questions thoughtful furniture and home appliance designers invariably will have:

Do you, for instance, prefer talking to a machine? Or do you rather want it to be more human like? Would you prefer your A.I. to be male or female? Would it make a difference? Should your A.I. reflect your values and worldview? And how much privacy are you willing to give up in return for having A.I. ease the process of living?

The results of the survey are live with the latest responses. Here’s one result as of Tuesday: What gender should your A.I. be? 32 percent male, 25 percent female, 43 percent gender neutral.

The Swedish corporate giant’s blog post on the subject goes on at some length about the potential for A.I., but doesn’t ever get around to laying out how those alleged benefits apply to IKEA products and customers. It would be seriously ill-advised to try launching a brand-defining new assistant product in competition with the likes of Apple, Google, and Amazon.

The IKEA AI survey.

It seems that for now, anyway, this survey seems to have two functions: 1. publicize the fact that IKEA is thinking about A.I., and 2. collect as much data as possible about what its customers — or anybody, really — thinks of A.I.

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