Life Imitates Black Mirror: New Car Tech Detects Driver’s Personality Traits…
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Psychology in Beijing and BMW are jointly developing a system to detect a driver’s personality by the first 10 kilometres driven. The findings, published in the Journal of Advanced Transportation, will apparently contribute to improving in-car safety and driver assistance technologies. But it also sounds a bit Big-Brother- and Minority Report- and Black-Mirror-ish to this writer.
The research had 92 participants in sensor-laden vehicles drive 15 kilometres through the traffic of Beijing city. The system recorded data 10 times every second, including that of the angle of the accelerator pedal, frontal and lateral acceleration, speed and steering wheel angle. And from these, an AI made the deduction of the driver’s Big Five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism; according to the researchers, the accuracy by which the AI was able to determine the individual’s personality traits is up to 88%.
Now, if you’re thinking that that’s a little creepy and intrusive, it is. And therefore, the researchers say that the driver’s data can be encrypted and stored only in the car’s ECU for security purposes. But we all know that that doesn’t guarantee that it will not be tampered with or stolen. And then there is the other question of how the data will be used to help the drivers, which is still vague.
If the car were to detect that the driver is a potential road-rager, does the autonomous tech take over and drive the passenger straight to the police station or therapist? If the driver is too meek, does it speed up to prevent road-hogging? If an anxious person is behind the wheel, does it play calming music over the in-car stereo?
The same Beijing laboratory is also working with the Chinese military and government to use other types of big data to determine someone’s personal traits, such as making a correlation between the pattern of social media postings with the user’s personality. So, careful what you post online, comrades.