Every time before landing or take off, the cabin crews continuously remind passengers to pull up the window shades, straighten their seats and what not. My question is why can't pilots be given control of these things, at a flick of a button they can open / close all window shades and upright all seats. It's 2015 not 1980.
Adding all those actuators and associated wiring will add weight and cost to each flight, but the cabin crew have to be there for safety reasons, so they may as well have something to do.
Besides, how would you feel if your seat suddenly jolted you upright without warning?
On the Boeing 787, the mechanical window shades have been replaced with glass panes which can be made more opaque or transparent by applying electric current to them. (source) The passengers can control their own window's opacity through buttons, but the cabin purser can also control them centrally.
Adding to @Airsick's answer there's an important psychological component, which is the illusion of control. Passengers in an airplane have very little they have control of, they are told when they can go to the bathroom and when they have to stay in their seat, they are given their meals rather than choosing when to eat, etc. Passengers have the option to control seat position, tray tables, shades, lights, and entertainment systems to suit their comfort. These things are important as they make people feel better about being shut up in an aluminum tube for hours, even if they make no ultimate difference as to what happens.
If you take control of these things away people would feel they are an intrusion into their personal space, and would not like it at all. People like doing things themselves, even if they have no choice ultimately.