Lie to your computer?
Well, sure. In today's high tech world, lying to one's computer is little different than sweet talking your car, pleading with a slot machine to produce a winning combo or threatening a big garden boulder that refuses to move.
In other words, it's really about how people react to situations good and bad. The basic reasoning is simple: People have an instinctive "personal" commitment to the task at hand. We are hard-wired to cooperate with others, as deftly explained by Michael Tomasello in 'Why We Cooperate.' As Nass and Yen make delightfully clear in case after case, it's human nature to talk to machines.
Many years ago, Dale Carnegie wrote the classic 'How to Win Friends and Influence People.' Nass would have would have listened to car drivers and truck mechanics and written "How to Talk to Your Car and Influence Trucks.' Since computers are now ubiquitous, he listens to people talk to computers. The result won't make the computer any smarter, but it does a lot for people.
The result is a superb book about people. Computers are like cats, the gods of our society. Neither cats nor computers listen to humans, but people pay attention to both and are much the better for it. Look at a Neolithic effigy and think of the conversations Neanderthals had with it.
The chapter on teams and team building is wonderful. Most team building gimmicks are like watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders -- they amuse the fans but don't teach players a thing about football. Fans want to see a winning team, more so than fancy pants dance routines.
In business, cheerleader events are "wilderness bonding" and other play-acting gimmicks. Instead of fantasy events, Nass and Yen describe how people react to situations good and bad. Yes, repeating that phrase is deliberate, because the book deals with dozens of real situations -- good and bad. It's an exercise on how to deal with people, using machines as a neutral example.
Consider, for example, a car that tells people how to drive safely. It sounds wonderful; but, if not done properly, it enrages drivers and causes accidents. Now, think of bosses who tell employees how to work efficiently and effectively; if not done properly, they enrage people and cause output to decline.
Having spent much time since the 1960s telling people what to do ... all I can say is I wish I had had this book in the 1960s. The premise is ingenious; namely, if you can learn to speak properly to your machines, you'll do fine when dealing with people.