Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Smart Cars

My niece is visiting here in Little Rock, staying with my family for the summer. She's 10 and I'm frequently tickled by her outlook on life. She's spending her days at various local summer camps and this week it's Discover Camp at the local community center. The camp is teaching the kids about inventions, so that's been the topic of various conversations. My niece has decided she will invent a smart car. Her car will be able to do anything you ask it to do, simply by thinking it. It sounds far-fetched, but according to my husband, a family friend is doing something similar with military planes. The pilot simply thinks "Fly left" and off he goes. I'm sure we are well on our way towards smart cars, smart refrigerators and the like. My niece may one day soon see her dream realized, faster than even she may imagine. This set me to wondering, though, about the potential pitfalls of "smart"cars and the like.

My computer already has a personality, named Vicky by my husband for the seductive voice it uses to tell me the time and date and to remind me to stop playing on Facebook or Yelp and look for a freaking job already. What if my car could actually read my thoughts? Road Rage would have a whole new meaning when I think to myself, I should really teach that a-hole a lesson, and my car suddenly rams into the jerk in front of me. Or what if I think to myself, I should really call my mother-in-law, only to find myself driving down the freeway and suddenly in the midst of a phone conversation I really had never meant to have?

A smart refrigerator could really cause me problems. It would find me ordering all types of junk food when hungry only to find it appearing on my door step and ruining my well-intended diet. And a smart toaster? Well that's just a fire waiting to happen. It seems this technology may be in the hands of the military soon, if it isn't already, which scares me half to death. One mistake and instead of bombing Osama Bin Laden's latest hideout, we may find we've unintentionally blown up our own troops, along with half of the Middle East.

I'm not sure I like the idea of any machine reading my mind and my deepest wishes. I try to stick to my morale compass, but I seriously doubt I could keep my thoughts in check all the time. I mean if the things that fleetingly pass through my head actually happened? Well, let's just say that Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton would be in some serious danger.

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