When the world’s most unpopular piece of anthropomorphic stationary was put out to pasture in 2007, no-one shed a tear. But the damage was lasting. Since then, we’ve treated the idea of a spunky AI helper with nothing but skepticism. But—with hindsight—there’s argument that Clippy was an abomination born of sound intentions and ham-fisted execution. He—and he was a he—just wanted to help. A lot. But like a toddler with a toy hammer, Clippy was as indiscriminate as he was ineffective.
Once upon a time in the 80’s, a visionary helped a tech company launch an entire category of consumer electronics. At the time, The New York Times said of its new president: "[to his critics], he is an aspiring monopolist, squeezing supply and jacking up prices.” Despite falling from prominence in the 90’s, the company would then return to glory in the 2000’s until its CEO fell terminally ill a little over a decade later, leaving fans and investors questioning the company’s future. This story may sound very familiar, but I'm not talking about Apple, Inc.