DO we really need voice-activated cookers, remote-controlled loos and a fridge that can predict the weather?

If someone from 1999 had spent the last 20 years in cryo-freeze, then woke up and wandered around the smart home section of IKEA, they’d think the robots had finally taken over.

With surveillance cameras we can see from the beach, digital locks and artificial intelligence we’re on first name terms with, our appliances are ruling our lives perhaps more than they should.

What even is a smart home? I had to look it up - in simple terms, it’s a “connected set of domestic gadgets and appliances, controlled via a central hub or smartphone”.

Since the nearest thing I have to home tech is my over-priced Sky package, which fails to pick up a satellite signal pretty much every time it rains, I wouldn’t say my home was a smart home.

I don’t have fancy gadgets and, to be honest, I don’t feel I’m missing out. I know people who have an Alexa device and I find her a bit creepy, like she’s watching and judging. I’d hate to share my home with a bossy ‘virtual assistant’ with a plummy voice.

Some smart fridges have internal cameras that log the contents so you can see, via an app, what you need when you’re at the supermarket. There’s even a fridge freezer that doubles as a multimedia entertainment/life-organising system, containing - deep breath - a calendar, speaker system, touchpad, TV and search engine. It can open a video link of your fridge interior from half-way around the world, in case you find yourself fretting about those mouldy carrots while you’re 12,000 miles from home.

I don’t really want my fridge to have artificial intelligence. As long as it has wine, cheese and pickled onions in it, I’m fine.

I’m not interested in keeping up with smart devices because they’re just the latest step in the ever-evolving quest for convenience, and it doesn’t take long for them to become dated and naff. Remember the ‘teasmade’?

I grew up in a house with few gadgets. For several years the only way to change channels on our TV set was to wedge a wooden peg between the BBC and ITV buttons. We didn’t have a video recorder until I went to university. We once had a sandwich toaster, which felt quite modern but ended up un-used and a health hazard, covered in layers of grime.

Smart devices are designed for ultimate efficiency, yet come with hellish jargon and can be confusing. Voice-activated lighting, remote-controlled coffee machines, the smart thermostat that allows you to control your central heating via your smartphone - it all sounds like a headache to me. I can’t even set the alarm on my mobile phone.

And with all that tech lying around, you’ve got to install some smart security - an impenetrable wall of defensive devices to repel burglars. Security cameras streaming pictures live to your tablet or phone are all very well, but how can you switch off on holiday if you’re constantly checking to see if your Amazon delivery has been left in the recycling bin? My friend’s dad had his burglar alarm linked to his phone and it was so sensitive, birds and leaves kept setting it off, leaving his phone pinging throughout his week in Cyprus.

When I was a kid, watching Tomorrow’s World, I glimpsed the future and it was robots making the tea.

The very idea gave me the creeps, and still does. Just because we can have voice-activated curtains and a fridge with its own speaker system doesn’t mean we have to.

Isn’t that right, Alexa?

* SHOULD the 'naughty step' be banned? Many nurseries no longer have the traditional punishment for bad behaviour, according to a recent poll, and it seems staff aren't even allowed to call children naughty.

How on earth are children meant to understand good and bad behaviour if there are no boundaries set for them? Removing punishments for behaving badly must be horribly confusing for them.

I fail to see how being sent to sit on the naughty step to "think about what you've done" can have a negative impact on a child. It's better than being sent to their bedroom, which should be a happy place and not somewhere they associate with being told off. Treating children like delicate china dolls is going to produce a generation of spoilt, messed-up adults.

* WHAT a night at the Piece Hall on Sunday, when the fabulous Elbow took to the stage.

I was lucky enough to be at the concert - the culmination of a weekend of live music at the historic site, headlined also by local heroes Embrace and the Levellers.

Elbow's rousing set filled the courtyard beautifully, and the galleries were bathed in coloured lights, showing off the 18th century cloth hall in all its splendour. The Piece Hall complex has turned Halifax into a lively cultural hub. Great to see it rocking as a music venue.