For most, Uber is a great way to get home safe after a night of drinking. So, the company has secured a new patent for an artificial intelligence system to help drivers detect the condition of passengers before they enter the car.
The system within the app will utilize the angle of the user’s phone and his/her walking pattern to determine the state of the passenger. It will also compare behavior to a user’s long-term patterns. The system can also alter or determine specific services based on the prediction of the user’s state. Thus, it can choose an option for you, which could end up being more costly than your original choice.
Of course, this begs the question: If a person is so drunk that AI can determine they’re incapacitated, will they be able to even operate a ride-sharing app?
Techcrunch reports, “Riders in a particularly unusual state may be matched with drivers who have special training or expertise, or may not be provided service at all.” This is causing much controversy since the main point of Uber is to get people home safely. What if you’re in danger and desperately need a ride home? You may no longer have a reliable way with Uber if the app thinks you’re too drunk, regardless if you actually are.
A large motivator for Uber’s patent is its sexual assault problem. CNN reports that “at least 103 Uber drivers in the U.S. have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the last four years, with many of the police reports noting that the passengers were inebriated or had been drinking before getting into the car.” It is unclear whether the offending drivers have faced repercussions.
Does the idea of Uber using AI to assist drunk passengers make you sigh with relief or cringe?