Preventitive Technology: is it the Right Solution?

Noah O

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In recent years, campaigns to discourage distracted driving have become ubiquitous. Every mobile industry leader has been eager to leave their mark on this issue, continuously releasing new and improved methods of preventing and mitigating this widespread issue. Apple, the creators of iOS and the iPhone, launched the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature as part of iOS 11, proposing one method of preventing distractions behind the wheel as disabling most notifications behind the wheel. This feature has seen widespread adoption – with eighty percent of users enabling this feature – however, phone use amongst these drivers has only decreased by eight percent. Google and other Android phone manufacturers have also been creating similar systems, with similar results. However, what if that is not the right answer? We certainly can not expect phone manufacturers to believe so, as this “solution” directly results in less usage of their products. What if, instead of trying to prevent or mitigate this issue, we eliminate the cause itself? Technology is continuously evolving, changing the way we communicate drastically. However, with such rapid innovation, why do most people still rely primarily on text messaging to communicate with others? Industry’s revolutions in communication, such as Google’s Duplex, a system which allows an automated system to call businesses to schedule reservations and perform other tasks, don’t seem aimed at this area. And is Apple’s communication developments doing any better at fixing this issue with its innovations? I, for one, don’t think Memoji will keep me safe behind the wheel. No, we should look in a new direction entirely. How can we text behind the wheel, without ever picking up our phones? Sure, you could use a voice assistant like Siri, but this is slow, clunky, and annoying. We could call, but what teenager in this decade would be willing to place a phone call for every message they wish to send (especially with the still-high cost of phone minutes)? None that I know of, especially if they are in multiple conversations at once. However, what if we brought recent developments into this arena. Artificial intelligence, human language processing, full Bluetooth car systems – all the prerequisites are there. Why is there not a way that we can “call” others, in a simultaneous dual-way conversation, while the recipient is still able to text like always? Received messages could be read aloud immediately, and responses seamlessly dictated back, parsed into text, and sent back. Such a system would be infinitely more appealing and attractive to users, particularly younger ones who are used to such a fast-paced world. The remarkable ability to create such impactful innovations like these is just one of the reasons that computer science is so fascinating to me. In computer science, the limitations and constraints become nothing but another hurdle to overcome. Anything that we can imagine we can create. If I can dream it up, I can make it a reality. No matter how significant or widespread the problem, we can fix it through technology. Let’s leverage this ability to create innovations that can actually solve our problems, instead of than merely trying to prevent them. Together and through science, we can solve this issue that plagues our drivers.