Since the 1980s I’ve been reading predictions that soon, very soon, intelligent and responsive machines will converse with us in our own language. I think not. I predict that future devices will be programmed by the same sort of people who now write scripts for elevators and self-checkout machines. It won’t be the Dilberts who program our robots; it will be the Wallys.

The Dilberts are busy writing sophisticated code to make Volkswagen diesel-emission controls operate only in laboratory tests. The programming of devices that interact with ordinary users like us will be left to the Wallys.