Identity Processing Program of America

After his initial arrest, Joe is led by a noose stick (and a police officer speaking some devolved version of copspeak) to a machine to get an identity tattoo. Joe sits in the chair and a synthesized voice says, “Welcome to the Identity Processing Program of America. Please insert your forearm into the forearm receptacle.” Joe does as instructed and it locks his arm into place. A screen in front of him shows the legend “Identity Processing Program of America” superimposed over an USA pattern made up of company names and Carls Junior amputated star logos. Five rectangles across the top are labeled: System, Identity, Verify, Imprint, and Done.

It prompts him to “…speak your name as it appears on your current federal identity card, document number G24L8.” Joe says, “I’m not sure if—“ The machine interprets this as input and blinks the name as it says, “You have entered the name ‘Not Sure.’ Is this correct, Not Sure?”

Joe tries to correct it, saying, “No…it’s not correct.” On the word “correct” it dings and continues, “Thank you. ‘Not’ is correct.” “Not” stops blinking in the interface.

“…Is ‘Sure’ correct?” Joe has patience and tries to correct it. “No, it’s not. My name is Joe.” It blurts out some error beeps. “You’ve already confirmed your first name is Not. Please confirm your last name, ‘Sure.’”

Joe: My…My last name is not Sure.
Kiosk: Thank you, Not Sure.
Joe: No. What I mean is my name is Joe.
Kiosk: Confirmation is complete. Please wait while I tattoo your new identity on your arm.
The machine begins to shake and make noises. Joe says, “Wait a second. Can we start over? Can I cancel this?” He sees a progress bar, labeled “Tattoo In Progress…”


“Can we cancel this and just go back to the beginning? They’re gonna tat—Ow. Could I speak to your supervisor? Ow!” While he’s trying to wrench his arm free, the machine instructs him, “Please hold still for your photograph.” It flashes an unflattering picture of him and the clamp on his arm releases. He removes his arm to see the new tattoo. The screen shows him his identity card.

In exasperation from the whole ordeal he mumbles, “Oh, that’s fuckin’ great.”

This scene is played for the Vaudevillian yuks, but it does illustrate some problems with conversational design. And note that, if you’re interested in this topic, let me make an early shout out to the book Conversational Design by Erika Hall, published earlier this year.


Understanding intent

When it hears Joe say “I’m not sure…” it takes it as a literal answer. It does not recognize that Joe isn’t answering the question. It is one meta-level up. He has a question about the question being asked. Humans are pretty good at recognizing when another human is breaking the usual logic of adjacency pairs and not providing an answer to the question. (This was discussed in Make It So in Chapter 5, “Gestural Interfaces” in relation to Minority Report) Computers have a harder time of it. If this kiosk understood it, it would be know that he’s not answering the question, and resolve what conversational analysis calls “the expansion” before returning to the question. (Disclosure: I work there and know the guy who wrote that.)

Aside: Douglas Hofstadter in his mind-expanding book Godel, Escher, and Bach, writes about the trick question “Have you stopped beating your spouse?” for which neither “yes” nor “no” are good answers, but the only “correct” answers according to the binary frame of the question. In that text he introduces the eastern answer of “mu” (or “wu” in Chinese languages) that means roughly “the answer does not fit the question.” So it can be said that computers have a hard time understanding mu.


Designers of digital assistants have to wrangle with this, but it’s rarely a problem that the individual designer must wrestle with. Language and naming are informal, slippery notions as far as computers are concerned, so it’s understandably a hard problem. It’s entirely possible that someone has chosen “Not Sure” as a name, but it’s highly unlikely. And that’s another problem.

Understanding likelihood

Understanding intent might be a little easier if the computer could recognize that “Not” and “Sure” are unlikely values for a name. (Even in Idiocracy where names tend to be brands like Lexus, and Frito, and Biggiez. More on this later.) If it knew that, it would have a low confidence that it “heard” correctly, and shift into a repair or at least clarification mode. “‘Not’ would be very uncommon name. Let me be extra careful, here…” It could even shift into a more deliberate mode of input, like a keyboard, or asking him to spell his name out (or, you know, cancel the whole thing.)

Catching not

When the kiosk is asking for confirmation, it hears Joe say, “No it’s not correct” and registers the keyword “correct” but misses the function word “not” which completely flips the meaning.

Again, avoiding this speech-to-text error would be a developer’s task, but dealing with the back-and-forth would definitely fall to a designer. When clarifying low-confidence input, users should be able to provide discrete high-confidence feedback.

Joe could, for instance, be shown the kiosk’s (stupid) understanding of his input and—since this has a pretty permanent consequence—wait on his confirmation and providing the simple option to redo it so he can try some other tactic to getting “Joe Bauers” in there until he gets it right.
But, of course, this is Idiocracy, and Joe is stuck with it.

Sorry, Joe.

But we’re not

I mean, Republicans have done all they can to suppress votes that don’t favor them. They don’t care about Democracy or the will of the American people as they do staying in power to serve their 1% overlords. But research shows that people who have a plan to vote are more likely to actually do it, and if we all do it, we can overwhelm them with sheer numbers.
There are lots of tools to help you make a plan, but let’s send some traffic to our friends at Planned Parenthood. They’ve been under a lot of pressure during this administration. Maybe throw them a few sheckles while you’re there. Not for the election, but because you’re a good person. And vote all of them out.


The Court of Idiots

It’s Halloween, as if the news of the past week were not scary enough. Pipe bombs to Democratic leaders. The largest massacre of Jewish people in on American soil in history. The murder of two black senior citizens by a white supremacist in Kentucky. Now let’s add to it with this nightmare scene from Idiocracy. Full disclosure: We’re covering technology as old as civilization here, so there won’t be any screen interfaces.

Joe is wheeled into the courtroom in a cage. There is a large gallery there, all of whom are booing him. One throws his milkshake at the accused. Others throw trash. The narrator says, “Joe was arrested for not paying his hospital bill and not having his IPP tattoo. He would soon discover that in the future, Justice was not only blind, but had become rather retarded as well.”


Joe is let out of his cage. The judge, identified by his name plate as The Honorable Hector “The Hangman,” stands at his bench in a spotlight in front of a wall of logos, grinning in anticipation at a new victim. He slams a massive gavel and shouts at the booing crowd, “Listen up! Now. I’m fixin’ to commensurate this trial here. [All of this is sic.] We gon’ see if we can’t come up with a verdict up in here. Now. Since y’all say y’ain’t got no money, we have proprietarily obtained you one of them court-appointed lawyers. So, put your hands together to give it up for Frito Pendejo!”

Frito, wearing a long-sleeve t-shirt with “ATTORNEY AT LAW” running down the sleeve, sits and looks at a paper on the counsel table, saying “Says here you, uh, robbed a hospital?! Why’d you do that?” Joe says, “But I’m not guilty!” Frito replies, “That’s not what the other lawyer said.”


When the trial officially starts, the judge says, “Shut up. Shut up! Now, prosecutor. Why you think he done it?” The prosecutor stands up and says, “K. Number one, your honor. Just look at him.” Most everyone in the courtroom, including, Frito, laughs at this. Frito stands up and says, “He talks like a fag, too!” When more laughter dies down, the prospector continues, saying, “We’ve got all this, like, evidence, of how, like, this guy didn’t even pay at the hospital and I heard that he doesn’t even have his tattoo.” There are collective gasps. He continues, “I know! And I’m all, ‘You gotta be shitting me.’ But check this out, man, judge should be like, ‘Guilty!’ Peace.” The gallery erupts with applause and cheers. There is one guy wearing a helmet with a camera mounted to the top and he takes it all in dumbly.


When Frito stands to raise an objection, he says, “Your honor, I object…that this guy, also broke my apartment and shit.” There are gasps from the gallery, and Frito feels emboldened. “Yeah! And you know what else, I object that he’s not going to have any money to pay me after he pays back all the money he stole from the hospital!” This last bit is addressed to the gallery. They shout in anger. Frito finishes, saying, “And I object. I OBJECT that he interrupted me while I was watching, OW, MY BALLS! THAT IS NOT OK! I REST MY CASE.”

Joe stands and says, “Your Honor, I’m pretty sure we have a mistrial, here, sir.” Hector looks confused at this statement. Frito gets hostile and says, “I’m going to mistrial my foot up your ass if you don’t shut up!”


Joe ignores him and says, “Please listen!” The prosecuting attorney simply mocks him, “Please listen!” Hector laughs. The lawyers high five each other.

The narrator says, “Joe stated his case, logically and passionately. But his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter. Without adequate legal representation, Joe was given a stiff sentence.”

So…this nightmare

For most Americans, the drafting and adjudication of laws feels like something that happens “out there.” But upholding the law is something that, through jury duty or being part of a court case, is something most citizens directly experience some time in their lives. So it may seem like familiar, everyday stuff.

Wait. I know this.

But take that less trodden path to ask why it is the way it is, and you’ll eventually find yourself at the foundations of civilization and in the throes of philosophy. A key premise and promise of civilized society is having a fair and rational place for citizens to air grievances, and institutions that make and enforce just laws. In practice it’s far from perfect, but I’d bet most folks agree it’s better than the alternatives of lawlessness, personal violence, revenge, tribal feuds, and vigilantism.

Laws and courts are institutions that are so old and foundational, it’s hard to remember that:

  • They were, in fact, invented. There was a time before them.
  • There were reasons for the way they were designed.
  • Their design, like all designs, aren’t perfect, and involve some trade offs.
  • They evolve over time.
  • There are alternate designs to consider.

Idiocracy illustrates how important its norms are, and how tragic it can be when those norms are lost, and everyone involved is a fucking idiot. It’s not exactly monster rampage, body horror, or torture porn, but this scene is as scary a thing as you could ask for Halloween.

Violence as a means

Frito threatens violence a lot. So do a lot of the people in Idiocracy. I’m not even sure if they mean it, but they think that threatening or beating or shooting someone into silence is a fine way to disagree. One of the key promises of civilization is to undo that might-makes-right bullshit that kept generations of peasants suffering while an aristocracy lived the high life peeing in hallways, flubbing courtly love, and stuffng birds into each other like meaty nesting-dolls. We’ve moved on.

Have we, though?


It’s funny-terrifying that the case made against Joe is so stupid. There are crass appeals to emotion. Prosecution says that there’s “all this, like, evidence” but does not actually share any, like, evidence. Frito riles the Gallery up with insults “he talks like a fag” and personal grievances that aren’t germane to the case. (Ow My Balls! should not be evidence in, well, anything.)  It’s emotional theater and the audience eats it up, because what they’re there for is hits to the amygdala bong: The emotional highs and lows that you might get from a sports show. People screaming in cheers when their confirmation bias is rewarded, or fury when there’s a bit of cognitive dissonance. There’s probably nothing like a Fair Witness left on the planet, and if it weren’t for Joe’s intelligence that gets him out of jail, he would wind up suffering in prison for no reason at all. The lack of skepticism, of applying doubt to all things—especially the things that thrill you emotionally—causes unnecessary suffering. Sure, it’s an unjust universe, but civilization was invented to try and hold a little light against that darkness. The citizenry of Idiocracy are gullible and blithely self-serving to a cruel fault.


The system that pits prosecution against defense and presumes is called “adversarial,” since each counsel will present opposing cases to an impartial judge or jury, who is presumed competent to sort through the competing claims to come to the truth. It’s contrasted with an inquisitorial (or nonadversarial) system where the judges run the line of inquiry. Congressional hearings, for example, are much more of an inquisitorial system. Congresspeople ask the questions, rather than the lawyers.

The adversarial system depends on the impartiality of the judge and jury. If they presume guilt or innocence from the start, why have the trial at all? (This is sometimes called a kangaroo court, where procedure and ethics are ignored, and the outcome is a foregone conclusion.) Only dispassionate, neutral participants can look past their feelers to find a fair and impartial truth. You need people capable of impartial, critical thinking to look past the tricks and their own cognitive biases. That’s out the window in Idiocracy.


Joe is presumed guilty by literally everyone involved. It’s not wholly their fault. Joe is brought in wearing prison fatigues. He is wheeled in a cage. On the surface, he looks guilty. Humans have an availability bias, wherein easily recalled information is believed to be true and representative, and for very stupid people, that can be strictly what they see. And Joe looks guilty. Everyone around me is shouting that he’s guilty. So, the idiot thinks, he must be guilty.

Posers, surface evidence, and meaning

One of the worst things about the scene—and this plays out in the movie generally—is how people’s status is based on stupid, surface markers. For instance: Why do they accept that the judge is smart? Well, he uses fancy, “faggy” words like “commensurate” (It’s a malaprop. He means commence. But the Idiocrats are too stupid to know this.) and “proprietarily.” (I think he means “properly,” but it’s marvelously hard to tell.) Investigating this moves us very quickly into the semiosis treadmill, whereby a sign comes slowly to become the signified, even when it stupidly contradicts the original thing that was signified.

How do courts protect against idiocy?

It doesn’t always. But generally, there are lots of checks against incompetence. Anyone can request a mistrial if it’s shown that counsel, a judge, or a jury is incompetent, prejudiced, or doesn’t follow the rules. Lawyers can be reviewed and disbarred. Remedy for judges varies by state, but judges can be impeached, or undergo judicial review and be removed from their office. Their cases can be overturned by higher courts. (Yes, even that one.)

But notably all these presume that the incompetence is abnormal, and that others are competent to review and judge their competence. When everyone either gets so stupid or so corrupt that they have no interest in checking each other for fairness, the system just collapses.


Can design do anything?

This blog is primarily targeted at people who work in technology and love sci-fi. (Like I do.) A natural question is: Can design do anything to help inoculate courts against Idiocracy? And normally, I try to offer some hopeful answer to these questions, but this one has me stumped. What design interventions could we impose to increase skepticism? Impartiality? Critical thinking? Understanding? Seriously, if you have something, I’d love to hear it, because as of right now, I’ve got nothing.

How’s that for a Halloween scare?

Trick or Treat

Any Trump acolyte who has gleefully shouted “Lock her up! Lock her up!” at one of their farrowing-crate rallies, despite Clinton’s exoneration by the FBI, despite Trump’s own ongoing litany of scandals (including that ongoing issue of security), is guilty of this same kind of mob mentality as these morons in Idiocracy. It is all raw hate without reason. Hits from the tribalism bong. It’s not just that the mob hasn’t heard reason, it’s not interested in reason, only in justification. Only in thinking of political conversations as hobo fights. Did our guy land a hit? Insult? Hur dur, yarp.

lock her up
Yes, you, redhat.

It’s pretty soul crushing. So let’s have some spooky, escapist fun tonight for self-care. But as of tomorrow we’ll have 6 days and we should hit it hard.

The Cloak of Levitation, Part 4: Improvements

In prior posts we looked at an overview of the cloak, pondered whether it could ever work in reality (Mostly, in the far future), and whether or not the cloak could be considered agentive. (Mostly, yes.) In this last post I want to look at what improvements we might make if I was designing something akin to this for the real world.

Given its wealth of capabilities, the main complaint might be its lack of language.

A mute sidekick

It has a working theory of mind, a grasp of abstract concepts, and intention, so why does it not use language as part of a toolkit to fulfill its duties? Let’s first admit that mute sidekicks are kind of a trope at this point. Think R2D2, Silent Bob, BB8, Aladdin’s Magic Carpet (Disney), Teller, Harpo, Bernardo / Paco (admittedly obscure), Mini-me. They’re a thing.


Yes, I know she could talk to other fairies, but not to Peter.

Despite being a trope, its muteness in a combat partner is a significant impediment. Imagine its being able to say, “Hey Steve, he’s immune to the halberd. But throw that ribcage-looking thing on the wall at him, and you’ll be good.” Strange finds himself in life-or-death situations pretty much constantly, so having to disambiguate vague gestures wastes precious time that might make the difference between life and death. For, like, everyone on Earth. Continue reading

R. S. Revenge Comms

Note: In honor of the season, Rogue One opening this week, and the reviews of Battlestar Galactica: The Mini-Series behind us, I’m reopening the Star Wars Holiday Special reviews, starting with the show-within-a-show, The Faithful Wookie. Refresh yourself of the plot if it’s been a while.


On board the R.S. Revenge, the purple-skinned communications officer announces he’s picked up something. (Genders are a goofy thing to ascribe to alien physiology, but the voice actor speaks in a masculine register, so I’m going with it.)


He attends a monitor, below which are several dials and controls in a panel. On the right of the monitor screen there are five physical controls.

  • A stay-state toggle switch
  • A stay-state rocker switch
  • Three dials

The lower two dials have rings under them on the panel that accentuate their color.

Map View

The screen is a dark purple overhead map of the impossibly dense asteroid field in which the Revenge sits. A light purple grid divides the space into 48 squares. This screen has text all over it, but written in a constructed orthography unmentioned in the Wookieepedia. In the upper center and upper right are unchanging labels. Some triangular label sits in the lower-left. In the lower right corner, text appears and disappears too fast for (human) reading. The middle right side of the screen is labeled in large characters, but they also change too rapidly to make much sense of it.

revengescreen Continue reading

Iron Man HUD: A Breakdown

So this is going to take a few posts. You see, the next interface that appears in The Avengers is a video conference between Tony Stark in his Iron Man supersuit and his partner in romance and business, Pepper Potts, about switching Stark Tower from the electrical grid to their independent power source. Here’s what a still from the scene looks like.


So on the surface of this scene, it’s a communications interface.

But that chat exists inside of an interface with a conceptual and interaction framework that has been laid down since the original Iron Man movie in 2008, and built upon with each sequel, one in 2010 and one in 2013. (With rumors aplenty for a fourth one…sometime.)

So to review the video chat, I first have to talk about the whole interface, and that has about 6 hours of prologue occurring across 4 years of cinema informing it. So let’s start, as I do with almost every interface, simply by describing it and its components. Continue reading


Early in the film, when Shaw sees the MedPod for the first time, she comments to Vickers that, “They only made a dozen of these.” As she caresses its interface in awe, a panel extends as the pod instructs her to “Please verbally state the nature of your injury.”


The MedPod is a device for automated, generalized surgical procedures, operable by the patient him- (or her-, kinda, see below) self.

When in the film Shaw realizes that she’s carrying an alien organism in her womb, she breaks free from crewmembers who want to contain her, and makes a staggering beeline for the MedPod.

Once there, she reaches for the extended touchscreen and presses the red EMERGENCY button. Audio output from the pod confirms her selection, “Emergency procedure initiated. Please verbally state the nature of your injury.” Shaw shouts, “I need cesarean!” The machine informs her verbally that, “Error. This MedPod is calibrated for male patients only. It does not offer the procedure you have requested. Please seek medical assistance else–”


I’ll pause the action here to address this. What sensors and actuators are this gender-specific? Why can’t it offer gender-neutral alternatives? Sure, some procedures might need anatomical knowledge of particularly gendered organs (say…emergency circumcision?), but given…

  • the massive amounts of biological similarity between the sexes
  • the needs for any medical device to deal with a high degree of biological variability in its subjects anyway
  • most procedures are gender neutral

…this is a ridiculous interface plot device. If Dr. Shaw can issue a few simple system commands that work around this limitation (as she does in this very scene), then the machine could have just done without the stupid error message. (Yes, we get that it’s a mystery why Vickers would have her MedPod calibrated to a man, but really, that’s a throwaway clue.) Gender-specific procedures can’t take up so much room in memory that it was simpler to cut the potential lives it could save in half. You know, rather than outfit it with another hard drive.

Aside from the pointless “tension-building” wrong-gender plot point, there are still interface issues with this step. Why does she need to press the emergency button in the first place? The pod has a voice interface. Why can’t she just shout “Emergency!” or even better, “Help me!” Isn’t that more suited to an emergency situation? Why is a menu of procedures the default main screen? Shouldn’t it be a prompt to speak, and have the menu there for mute people or if silence is called for? And shouldn’t it provide a type-ahead control rather than a multi-facet selection list? OK, back to the action.

Desperate, Shaw presses a button that grants her manual control. She states “Surgery abdominal, penetrating injuries. Foreign body. Initiate.” The screen confirms these selections amongst options on screen. (They read “DIAGNOS, THERAP, SURGICAL, MED REC, SYS/MECH, and EMERGENCY”)

The pod then swings open saying, “Surgical procedure begins,” and tilting itself for easy access. Shaw injects herself with anesthetic and steps into the pod, which seals around her and returns to a horizontal position.

Why does Shaw need to speak in this stilted speech? In a panicked or medical emergency situation, proper computer syntax should be the last thing on a user’s mind. Let the patient shout the information however they need to, like “I’ve got an alien in my abdomen! I need it to be surgically removed now!” We know from the Sonic chapter that the use of natural language triggers an anthropomorphic sense in the user, which imposes some other design constraints to convey the system’s limitations, but in this case, the emergency trumps the needs of affordance subtleties.

Once inside the pod, a transparent display on the inside states that, “EMERGENCY PROC INITIATED.” Shaw makes some touch selections, which runs a diagnostic scan along the length of her body. The terrifying results display for her to see, with the alien body differentiated in magenta to contrast her own tissue, displayed in cyan.



Shaw shouts, “Get it out!!” It says, “Initiating anesthetics” before spraying her abdomen with a bile-yellow local anesthetic. It then says, “Commence surgical procedure.” (A note for the grammar nerds here: Wouldn’t you expect a machine to maintain a single part of speech for consistency? The first, “Initiating…” is a gerund, while the second, “Commence,” is an imperative.) Then, using lasers, the MedPod cuts through tissue until it reaches the foreign body. Given that the lasers can cut organic matter, and that the xenomorph has acid for blood, you have to hand it to the precision of this device. One slip could have burned a hole right through her spine. Fortunately it has a feather-light touch. Reaching in with a speculum-like device, it removes the squid-like alien in its amniotic sac.

OK. Here I have to return to the whole “ManPod” thing. Wouldn’t a scan have shown that this was, in fact, a woman? Why wouldn’t it stop the procedure if it really couldn’t handle working on the fairer sex? Should it have paused to have her sign away insurance rights? Could it really mistake her womb for a stomach? Wouldn’t it, believing her to be a man, presume the whole womb to be a foreign body and try to perform a hysterectomy rather than a delicate caesarian? ManPod, indeed.


After removing the alien, it waits around 10 seconds, showing it to her and letting her yank its umbilical cord, before she presses a few controls. The MedPod seals her up again with staples and opens the cover to let her sit up.

She gets off the table, rushes to the side of the MedPod, and places all five fingertips of her right hand on it, quickly twisting her hand clockwise. The interface changes to a red warning screen labeled “DECONTAMINATE.” She taps this to confirm and shouts, “Come on!” (Her vocal instruction does not feel like a formal part of the procedure and the machine does not respond differently.) To decontaminate, the pod seals up and a white mist fills the space.

OK. Since this is a MedPod, and it has something called a decontamination procedure, shouldn’t it actually test to see whether the decontamination worked? The user here has enacted emergency decontamination procedures, so it’s safe to say that this is a plague-level contagion. That’s doesn’t say to me: Spray it with a can of Raid and hope for the best. It says, “Kill it with fire.” We just saw, 10 seconds ago, that the MedPod can do a detailed, alien-detecting scan of its contents, so why on LV-223 would it not check to see if the kill-it-now-for-God’s-sake procedure had actually worked, and warn everyone within earshot that it hadn’t? Because someone needs to take additional measures to protect the ship, and take them, stat. But no, MedPod tucks the contamination under a white misty blanket, smiles, waves, and says, “OK, that’s taken care of! Thank you! Good day! Move along!”

For all of the goofiness that is this device, I’ll commend it for two things. The first is for pushing the notion forward of automated medicine. Yes, in this day and age, it’s kind of terrifying to imagine devices handling something as vital as life-saving surgery, but people in the future will likely find it terrifying that today we’d rather trust an error prone, bull-in-a-china-shop human to the task. And, after all, the characters have entrusted their lives to an android while they were in hypersleep for two years, so clearly that’s a thing they do.

Second, the gestural control to access the decontamination is well considered. It is a large gesture, requiring no great finesse on the part of the operator to find and press a sequence of keys, and one that is easy to execute quickly and in a panic. I’m absolutely not sure what percentage of procedures need the back-up safety of a kill-everything-inside mode, but presuming one is ever needed, this is a fine gesture to initiate that procedure. In fact, it could have been used in other interfaces around the ship, as we’ll see later with the escape pod interface.

I have the sense that in the original script, Shaw had to do what only a few very bad-ass people have been willing to do: perform life-saving surgery on themselves in the direst circumstances. Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch since she’s primarily an anthropologist and astronomer in the story, but give a girl a scalpel, hardcore anesthetics, and an alien embryo, and I’m sure she’ll figure out what to do. But pushing this bad-assery off to an automated device, loaded with constraints, ruins the moment and changes the scene from potentially awesome to just awful.

Given the inexplicable man-only settings, requiring a desperate patient to recall FORTRAN-esque syntax for spoken instructions, and the failure to provide any feedback about the destruction of an extinction-level pathogen, we must admit that the MedPod belongs squarely in the realm of goofy narrative technology and nowhere near the real world as a model of good interaction design.