late draft (pdf file)
Technological progress allows for the development of intelligent gadgets that are much smaller and more powerful than the bulky desktop computers that were around just a few years ago. Technology-oriented research communities understand these gadgets as enablers of scenarios that were widely considered science fiction just a few years ago: the expectation is that embedded and invisible technology calms our lives by removing the annoyances. Everyday life, however, is shaped by what people do, how they do it, and how they perceive what they are doing. The idea is that technology becomes context-aware in order to suit everyday life. So far, however, artifacts do not exhibit context-awareness beyond trivial notions of context. The question I address in this paper is to what extent artifacts can reasonably by expected to become context-aware. My impression is that the very idea of context-aware artifacts is closely related to much older ideas about intelligent machines pursued (with limited success) in the realm of classical artificial intelligence.