Kiss, kiss, says the disk
I can remember back to what my children call ''the olden days.'' Back then the function of the parent was to take care of the child. But now we should take the next logical step - use the computer to reward the child when he has achieved, reprimand him when he is naughty, and reaffirm our continuing love.
Impossible, you say? Nonsense. We have the technology. We just have to apply it. Right now we have recording devices that are activated by the sound of the human voice. How about a computer that activates at the sound of different qualities in the voice and responds through the use of speech syntheizers, already available on computers?
The child cries and the voice synthesizer says, ''That's OK, honey. Everything is going to be all right. Kiss, kiss.'' This might not heal a bruise as fast as a real kiss, but it is soothing.
At the sound of laughter the computer activates and says, ''That was a lot of fun, honey. Let's do it again.'' One hopes the child wasn't having fun putting Magic Marker designs on the living room couch. But then, childhood should be remembered as a time of fun.
The sound of accomplishment in a voice is a little harder to discern, but there is a special quality of excitement about it - ''Look! Look! I can zip up my coat!'' Considering the sophistication of our technology, the pitch of the voice used during times of excitement should be able to trigger the computer. ''That's wonderful, honey, I'm really proud of you,'' the machine responds.
And computers are wonderful at providing a cure for boredom. The whine of ''I don't have anything to do'' will trigger an instant response in the computer. ''See if you can beat me at Pac-Man.''
When the unexpected happens, we would allow the child to come up with his own solution. This will give children a taste for independence, a trait which needs nourishing, so that, someday, the child will grow up to be a self-reliant adult. He can come up with his own ideas of how to handle a garbage pail that he's spilled over.
In fact, what with microwave ovens that can be programmed to heat up the TV dinner at a specific time, there might be no need for human beings to raise children at all anymore. We can all be free to do our own things and to develop friendships with our children when they, too, become adults.
Parenting in the future may become obsolete, and all that the world will need will be a man and a woman to beget the child. And maybe, with a little effort, we can even do away with that.