How Thermostats Think


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A thermostat is a switch.

It knows on.

It knows off

Now switches, when combined with millions of other switches, can form artificial minds capable of extraordinary feats of mental agility.

A thermostat is not that kind of switch. On. Off. This is its world.

Do not feel sad for the thermostat. It does its job, and it is happy doing what it knows.

Is the temperature higher than the desired temperature?

No? On.

Yes? Off.

This is its world. It’s whole world.

So if you sent the thermostat to 30 degrees, it won’t think ‘Oh, they want it really hot, I’ll crank it to the max, stoke the boilers here we go!’

It thinks: on.

Then it thinks: is it thirty degrees yet? No.


And it will happily do that until the room is a tropical 30 degrees, or until the last star dies and the universe goes cold.

And the thermostat will be happy.

But I will not.

So please: set the  thermostat to a comfortable temperature. (Twenty, as they say, is plenty)

It will switch on. The room will warm up just as quickly.

Thermostat will be happy.

So will we.

So will the fish and the trees and the bunnies.



PS Please feel free to pass this on. Spread the word.

Brian Millar: Director of Strategy : Sense Worldwide

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