Friday, January 30, 2009

The age of the orb

From The Vine, TNR's very good blog on energy and the environment:

New regulatory czar Cass Sunstein riffs on "Nudge"-like solutions to reduce energy use in the Chicago Tribune: "Early attempts to notify people of their energy use with e-mails and text messages did no good. What worked was to give people something called an Ambient Orb, a little ball that glows red when people are using lots of energy, but green when their use is modest. In a period of weeks, users of the orb reduced their energy consumption during peak times by 40 percent!"

As far as paternalism goes, yielding to benevolent Ambient Orb overlords sounds relatively painless. Though one has to ask where this Ambient Orb slippery slope ultimately leads us.