Bad news: the days of pretending you are 100-percent sober in an Uber, and getting away with it, may be over. No more mumbling to the driver, “Yeh, uh, good mate, and you … you?” in the most Sober Person Voice possible as you climb in, stinking of booze. No more spending the entire 25-minute journey ignoring questions about “That Kane lad,” focusing on how you will not, I repeat, will not vomit in this man’s nice Prius. No more regaining consciousness, 12 miles from your house, and realising you accidentally entered “Southfields” instead of “Stratford.”
Alas, Uber is developing technology that could work out whether people are drunk when ordering a cab. According to CNN Tech, last week, Uber Technology Inc. filed a patent for machine learning technology that can predict a user’s state, and alert the driver to this information. This could be through measuring typos, making deductions based on the time and location of the request, and how a user presses the buttons on their phone.
According to the patent, the technology “trains a computer model to predict [the] state of a user." The data would also “be compared against the user's prior behaviour to determine differences in the user behaviour for this request and normal behaviour of prior requests.” Depending on this behaviour, “the system can alter the parameters of a service based on the prediction.” Extremely unnerving!
MUNCHIES reached out to Uber for a comment, but had received no response by time of publishing.
As a company with a tonne of money and not a lot of ethical concerns, Uber has a history of experimenting with out-there technology. In 2016, the company patented virtual reality tools designed to give “drivers” in self-driving cars a more interesting ride, as well as technology to stop passengers feeling car sick while reading.
I, for one, welcome our new Silicon Valley overlords.