Sunday, July 30, 2017

"You should see the elevators at Microsoft's big London office. No buttons in them."

I raced in, bound for the fifth floor, and realised after an awkward pause that this elevator was only going to the second floor. An elevator that only goes to the second door? It turned out that it was only going to the second floor because the person who called it was only going to the second floor. He was stood over by the window wondering what I was up to. Welcome to the future, where you can crash someone's elevator party.

What I should have done, of course, is wait in the elevator bay and use a small panel in the centre of the space to select my floor of choice. An elevator would then be assigned to me, and once inside, it would take me, and only me, to the floor I wanted. Valet service. I did not expect to find this in an elevator.

"Your elevators are very confusing," I suggested when I finally got to Microsoft. But it turns out that the man I was meeting did not agree. They're amazing, he explained.


I mention this only because it was mildly concerning. What does a futuristic elevator do? It confuses you, until you adapt to it, at which point every other elevator on the planet becomes inferior, and, over time, every other elevator becomes confusing in its own primitive way. And I mention this only because the man I was meeting at Microsoft has a fascinating job, working on a team that is reimagining MS Paint for the modern era. But wait: a man who spends enough time around fancy valet-service elevators? What are they going to do to MS Paint?