The Storm in My Dryer

Storms – both literal and metaphorical – are hardly a new preoccupation, in life or in the movies.

In the 1960s I grew up reading Isaac Asimov’s stories and books (written as early as the 1940s), which envisioned a future buttressed by his three laws of robotics:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

All good, right? Not so fast. By the start of the Terminator franchise, which debuted in 1984, we had a less sanguine view of our ability to design human/fool-proof robots, androids, and artificial intelligence. While I don’t rely on Hollywood for thoughtful commentary on the issues of the day, I continue to see articles from thoughtful people on the risks/dangers of artificial intelligence (AI): here, here, and here, for example.

What brings this up now?

I’m glad you asked. It’s this: my clothes dryer has taken up origami.


Yes, this is the scene that greeted me last Monday.


Now, I admit that to dignify this basic attempt at sheet folding as “origami” is a little over the top. But one of the key characteristics of AI is the speed with which learning occurs. Consider what greeted me yesterday.


You’re kidding, right?


But with the inexorable spread of the “internet of things,” I’m not kidding when I say that I’m keeping my eye on that dryer.


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11 Responses to The Storm in My Dryer

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I have found that fitted bottom Queen-size sheets were inspired by a great white shark. Once in the dryer, they open their gigantic mouths and swallow everything else. When I open the dryer, everything — other sheets, socks, underwear, shirts — have been sucked inside the bottom sheet and are now as inextricably tangled as a ball of wool played with by two kittens.

    More to the point of your AI piece, I don’t share your optimism about Azimov’s three laws. Rather than acting on moral principles, I fear, AI may act lime an unbending bureaucrat.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – LOL. This was the first time I’ve had quite this degree of swallowing, although it’s common to find smaller bits tucked/sucked into the fitted corners. As for Asimov’s laws, Wiki tells me that he himself modified them to include a 4th law about humanity. One key to preventing the bureaucrat trap is the prohibition against causing/letting harm through a “failure to act.”

    • barbara carlson says:

      If you hold a damp sheet up high by a corner, then bunch it up a section at a time — 4 or 5 times — and lay this stack carefully in the dryer, it will dry and won’t ball up or gobble up smaller items.
      Also don’t large not small items in with it.
      And no towels; their difference in weight confuses the drying sheet.

  2. My clothes washer does something weird with sheets as it distributes the load according to its own idea of what works. It always ends up with a sheet flat across the top and tucked in all around the rest of the load. Those swan towels are something else. A table napkin design to impress royalty, no doubt! Love the colours, too.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – I hope our appliances aren’t talking to each other . . .

    • Alison says:

      I think we must have the same washer! Mine does the same thing, and it amazes me -it’s so neatly done!

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Alison – And, against my expectations, everything rolled up inside was dry, not still damp. It certainly made it easier to carry the entire load back to the bedroom without trailing bits along the way.

    • barbara carlson says:

      See my Reply to Jim Taylor.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    Did I tell you about finding a small gold ring in the lint tray last January? One of my daughters had lost it in a contour sheet in February, 2020…the last time any family stayed overnight with me.
    Nice surprise for me! Much happiness for my daughter! Even greater happiness for my son-in-law who doesn’t have to replace his wife’s lost ring! Win-Win-Win!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – Lovely! It’s always wonderful when the rings come back from their trips. I think that’s the third story I’ve heard (one related to house renovations, one to horseback riding). Maybe there’s a book here . . .

      • barbara carlson says:

        I washed sweat pants and their very deep pockets & inside both pockets — at their very bottoms — was one of my 3″ diam. wool balls which supposedly help distribute the drying clothes to make them dry faster — but certainly provide entertainment.

        (I also used them to practice my physic talents — I spread the dry clothes across the counter, move my hands over the clothes and more times than is statistically possible, I dive down to find the lucky ball (s).

        I only have two balls now, as one unravelled and tied the entire dried load into knots. Scissors to the rescue.

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