Mike Kuniavsky writes about user expectations in a world of smart devices:
Because we have no other way to explain how things work, we will see the world as animist. Animism is, in its broadest definition, the belief that all objects have will, intelligence, and memory and that they interact with and affect our lives in a deliberate, intelligent, and (in a sense) conscious way. When this happens, well stop expecting our tools to be mechanical and predictable and will begin to expect more complex, intuitive capabilities from all of them, even the dumb ones.
This sounds far out and spacey, but I think its right around the corner. This kind of intelligence is already starting to leak into mainstream products, and I bet that designers will have to think about it seriously within the next five years. Perhaps the biggest change for user-experience designers will be a users subsequent disregard for predictability.
The most basic change that will happen as a result of increasingly animist attitudes, however, is one thats happening already. We used to start by making a new technology and then adjusting it to solve peoples problems. Now were starting with a problem and developing technologies that help address it.
In the end, once object intelligence is as ubiquitous and expected as electric power, it wont be the limits of technology that drive design, but human needs.