Uber Could Detect if Prospective Passenger is Wasted

0
918
Uber

The patent is titled “predicting user state using machine learning,” so it doesn’t explicitly mention drunkenness or drug use. But its contents, which speak of “uncharacteristic user states” and “identifying a normal or abnormal state of the respective user,” suggest such matters may be at the center of the idea. Other conditions that could also conceivably lead to uncharacteristic behavior by a rider could also include extreme tiredness.

According to the filing, the way it works is that A.I. would be built into the app and would monitor behavior such as typing speed and accuracy, as well as walking speed and direction, before interpreting the data to determine whether the rider sober or not. So if you’re typing slower than usual, making more mistakes than you ordinarily do, and perhaps dropping the phone or staggering, the software is likely to conclude that you’re intoxicated.

The algorithm could also make use of time and location data, taking special note of whether or not the ride request is coming from an entertainment area with bars and clubs at the end of the night.

If the system concludes that the rider is intoxicated, it could deal with the Uber request in a number of ways. For example, it might match the compromised rider with a more experienced driver, or one trained to handle such potentially disorderly passengers. It might also prevent drunk riders from taking a pooled ride. At the very least, it would serve as notice to the Uber driver that the rider may be an unsavory character. Of course, if the algorithm detects someone in a particularly bad state, a driver may simply refuse to pick them up .

Some Uber riders, however, may find the idea expressed in Uber’s patent somewhat troubling, especially as it could offer a way for predatory drivers to target vulnerable riders who may not be in full control of their faculties.

Privacy advocates, too, may not like the sound of it. Uber doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to handling customer data, and holding information on when its riders are perceived to be drunk or sober may leave some riders feeling uncomfortable.

Comment on this article and other GadgetGram content by visiting our Facebook page, or our Twitter and Instagram feeds.

 

Previous articleLeveTop Vertical Drone
Next articleJackRabbit ebike/scooter on Kickstarter
For the last 20 years, David Novak has appeared in newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV around the world, reviewing the latest in consumer technology.His byline has appeared in Popular Science, PC Magazine, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Electronic House Magazine, GQ, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, Forbes Technology, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Glamour Magazine, T3 Technology Magazine, Stuff Magazine, Maxim Magazine, Wired Magazine, Laptop Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, Indiana Business Journal, Better Homes and Garden, CNET, Engadget, InfoWorld, Information Week, Yahoo Technology and Mobile Magazine. He has also made radio appearances on the The Mark Levin Radio Show, The Laura Ingraham Talk Show, Bob & Tom Show, and the Paul Harvey RadioShow. He’s also made TV appearances on The Today Show and The CBS Morning Show.His nationally syndicated newspaper column called the GadgetGUY, appears in over 100 newspapers around the world each week, where Novak enjoys over 3 million in readership. David is also a contributing writer fro Men’s Journal, GQ, Popular Mechanics, T3 Magazine and Electronic House here in the U.S.