When the brave new future of intelligent machines and smart materials finally dawns, one of the things I’d like to see early on is this: a Swiss Army knife that works out what tool you’re most likely to be reaching for, and re-arranges its own internals so it’s that way around by the time you pick it up.
I mention this because of a curious situation with a Leatherman tool in my possession. It’s a pretty thing, with useful pliers, a moderately large blade, and – crucially – a corkscrew. But somehow, every time I pick it up to use one of these things, I instead proceed to open up the scissors.
I’ve had it two years. You’d have thought I’d have learned its various orientations by now, but apparently not. Scissors. Every time. If I throw it in the air so it tumbles, catch it, and open the thing to hand – scissors. Statistically, this doesn’t seem possible. Perhaps smart materials are already with us, only they’re a bit stroppy.