Before today the only thing I knew about MIT was that it was the place that Will Hunting did math in between mopping floors and making Robin Williams want to punch a kid in the face. But apparently M.I.T actually stands for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and its filled to its pretentious rafters with very smart people who are full of terrifying ideas. The most recent nightmare created by smart folks: AIDA.
It’s in the picture to the right. Don’t look at it. Don’t…oh god it’s looking right into my soul
What M.I.T thinks it is: Your new robotic best friend.
AIDA is designed to take in environmental information about where you’re driving, your driving preferences and previous information about routine trips in order to learn about you. You know; as a person. Professor Cynthia Breazeal, director of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab explains, “We are developing AIDA to read the driver’s mood from facial expression and other cues and respond in a socially appropriate and informative way.” AIDA communicates in a very immediate way: with the seamlessness of a smile or the blink of an eye. Over time, the project envisions that a kind of symbiotic relationship develops between the driver and AIDA, whereby both parties learn from each other and establish an affective bond.
Think about this for a few minutes. Some of the smartest people in the US, people whose sole job it is to spend a majority of their lives using their super-human brain powers to do nothing other than solve the world’s problems and come up with crazy new shit have created the vehicular equivalent of Screech’s robotic best friend.
Thanks a lot nerds. It’s nice to know that old fetishes don’t die.
What you might think it is: K.I.T.T
When I first read about this contraption images of a crime fighting car flashed through my mind. I donned my leather jacket, permed my hair and called Gary Coleman and told him it was time to kick ass. Sadly I learned a few things in this day dream: One, Gary Coleman is dead and won’t be doing anymore pint sized shennanigans. Two, I’m not Michael Knight. Three: I don’t have bitchingly perfect permed hair. Four: this abomination is not a super-awesome black eighties Trans-Am. Yes a computer in your car is an awesome idea. A computer in your car that learns about you is even more awesome. But a computer in your car that winks at you when you let someone in front of you in traffic…well that’s like a handshake in a whore house: certainly it’s cordial but it doesn’t serve a fucking purpose.
What is actually is:
At best: Annoying.
Back seat drivers are a pain in the ass. They’re always trying to tell you how to drive and what to do when you’re behind the wheel. It’s always “Turn there” this and “Quit driving so fast” that and the ever popular “I don’t think you should be drinking Bourbon through a silly straw”. Really they’re nothing more than niggling, abrasive little wanna be dictators. Well now you’ll have one in your car that you can’t ball gag or frighten into passing out. It’s just going to sit there, judging you, pleading with you with its cold unfeeling eyes, trying to will you into submission.
it just sits there, staring, hoping I’ll quit screaming at it.
At worse: Fucking Terrifying
From their press release: “Instead of focusing solely on determining routes to a specified waypoint, our system utilizes analysis of driver behavior in order to identify the set of goals the driver would like to achieve.”
Think about this for a moment: you’re going to put a learning machine in your car, tie it’s feeble yet sponge like robot brain into an array of sensors – including sensors that read your facial expressions and emotions – and allow it to determine how to take action based its interpretation of goals you would like to achieve. And somehow this is NOT going to go wrong?
I’m prone to moments of Dukes of Hazardry and outbursts of profanity that would make an inmate blush. I often use my alone time during my commute as a therapy session. I’m doing all of this while piloting a bomb. And this whole time AIDA is learning, analyzing, attempting to understand my goals as a driver. The only real outcome of this data mining is that AIDA will either take my empty threats at other drivers as gospel and attempt to murder everyone on the road using my car as the weapon – OR: after months and months of hearing me scream degrading and awful things at other drivers, mumbling to myself on how to solve my personal problems and my sometimes poor choices in listening habits AIDA will become depressed and determine that my “goal as a driver” is to end it all in a ball of twisted metal, fire and sadness. Either way I’m fairly certain that this thing intends to kill me.
“Awww man. How’d he figure it out?”
That’s right. I’m on to you fucker!
Thanks for NOTHING M.I.T.