Friday, May 19, 2017

Vehicular Mood Rings?

                Rapid changes in technology have all of us excited- or concerned- or…something. BMW is apparently poised to make use of our emotions to let everyone else know what we’re feeling as we’re driving. According to USA Today and Bloomberg News, the German car company has proposed MINI VISION NEXT 100, a car of the future that would change colors based on its driver’s mood. Apparently, the company already has a version of the vehicle on a test track, though why it needs to be test-track-tested remains in question. God forbid it touts us as “pensive” rather than “reflective!”
                Is it really wise- or necessary- to let other drivers know how we’re feeling at every given moment? Are all of these vehicles going to be glowing red (“Angry!”) during traffic jams? And what if they’re not? What if one is vibrantly blue (“horny/sexy/feelin’ real good”) in the midst of a Biblical vehicular snarl? Will the folks in that car want to broadcast their uninhibited activity and open superiority to all others around them? Of course they will, but what about the rest of us? Why should we be auto-shamed for our circumspection, decency and reticence? Do we really need automotive mood rings?
                And how will this nascent technology translate to autonomous, self-driving vehicles? Will smart cars, and A.I. vehicles, proudly, truthfully broadcast their “feelings?” Will those vehicles change color based on their moods? Will smart cars be capable of having a mood? And, if so, what if the mood is: “Angry. Idiot humans don’t use turn signals when they should! Kill as many as possible?”
                Must we make our Volvos emotionally devolve with us, even as they become smarter and more capable? We are getting dumber as our machines are getting smarter. We already willingly broadcast our feelings to everyone we know, and many we have probably never met, via FaceBook and other social media. And really, how is that working out for us? If someone posts that they’ve stubbed their toe or have a cold, we reply with the same crying-faced emoji we’d use if their significant other dies or North Korea vaporizes Japan.

                Should we really insist that, even whilst in our private vehicles, everyone else around us should have a continually-updated barometer of our every mood? If so, what does that tell us about ourselves? More to the point, I guess, in this day and age, how does that make you feel?
                Soon, when you hop in your car, we'll all know.

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