In 2006, Gunilla Bradley, and I’m sure many others, indicated that IT was going to be everywhere. I think back of the advances I have realized in the past near 5 years and am amazed at the new technology systems that we have. Information Technology exists and is used everywhere from the stores we shop in, our employers and the markets we go to, to name a few. One little scan of the Advantage Card at Price Chopper and they are able to track our buying habits and use that information to market and advertise products to our particular demographics.
She discusses the computer technology as it applies to cars. (p. 65) Bradley states that cars are becoming more and more intelligent. Use of GPS’s can determine locations; cars have become entertainment centers with surround sound, and DVD dual DVD players located within the vehicle; higher end cars such as Mercedes Benz tout their Attention Assist system which alerts drivers who may be falling asleep at the wheel or be impaired.
Though I am sure this is a wonderful feature, I did find one of their commercials incredibly disturbing. I have scanned the Internet, YouTube and Google to find the commercial ad, but was unable to locate it. This featured 3 different customers who narrated their tale of woe to the audience. Two had been falling asleep at the wheel and the alert system startled them, and the computerized brakes kicked in to stop an accident from happening. The other customer had said he had a couple drinks, and this saved him with the computerized brake system. I do commend the computerized brake system and the cars interior “brain”, but I have to take a moment to fault the advertising and marketing group for this commercial. Never, do I find it acceptable, to drink while ability impaired – regardless if a vehicle’s brain is more intelligent than the driver’s.
Back on task …
Bradley also discusses the demands of complex systems, having the right information at the right time to make good decisions, are pushing system development. These types of systems must be reliable, secure. The systems should be able to interact between user and environment and be multilingual and multicultural. (p. 67) Though I’m guessing the list of criteria may not have been written in the context of smart cars or On-Star Systems, I see the correlation. Attention Assist systems must be acutely aware of the drivers tendencies and the environment sensors surrounding the cars. On-Star needs to be able to communicate with people of any language if they will sell their service. It must also be tested and reliable, as one of the features is that even if the driver cannot alert them, they will know there has been an accident or situation.
A little lighter note, but important none the less. This book was written before the first iPhone was put on the market. The iPhone seemed to have set a new pace in what a small handheld device could do. One could talk on the phone, listen to downloaded music, and search the Internet with a breeze. Since then, more phone manufacturers and cell phone service companies offer internet, or data, as part of their package and phone abilities. Blackberry, Verizon, AT&T all offer services with their smart phones which are computer based that are intended to make our lives easier. We can keep our calendars on there, use them as alarm clocks, use for email, multimedia (including both photo and video features). We can be anywhere, and still be able to retrieve sports scores, weather forecasts, or have the ability to change our lives in just one moment as AT&T promotes with their 3G Network commercial.
Bradley, Gunilla. Social and Community Informatics Humans on the Net. New York: Routledge