The "Computer as Assistant" Fallacy Personal Commentary4/1/2001; 8:10:39 PM 'There has been a lot of talk lately about how computers are too hard to learn to use. There is a longing for devices you can just pick up and use without training. Microsoft's Kai-fu Lee was quoted in The New York Times as saying, when discussing the more "natural and intelligent" user interfaces he hopes to create, "My dream is that the computer of the future is going to be an assistant to the user." 'This type of thinking strikes me as strange. We don't ask for our automobiles to be more natural and intelligent, nor do we call for the next generation of cars to be like chauffeurs. With cars, we talk about responsiveness, comfort, power, cargo size, and safety. Tools are effective and appropriate to the task. Learning to use them is part of being human.' Reminds me of what I wrote last year.