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Uber Seeking Patent On Artificial Intelligence Technology To Identify Drunk Riders

By Kay Greene, TECH NEWS OBSERVER

June 24, 2018

http://technewsobserver.com/2018/06/24/uber-seeking-patent-on-artificia…

Uber wants to implement an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology in its working that will help distinguish between drunk and sober riders. The ride-hailing giant has applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for such a technology but as of now it has no immediate plans to implement it.

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is almost everywhere with most of the fields adopting its usage to streamline and secure their operations. So, the approach by Uber is certainly in line with today’s thought process of reputed companies. But the question is how will this technology actually work? Will the San Francisco-based Californian Company store and use the data on health to identify the lifestyle of users?

Drivers Can Refuse Shared Ride To Inebriated Riders

The aim is to identify heavy intoxicated users so that the drivers can be warned about the passengers’ sobriety. If the riders are found too inebriated, the driver can refuse shared rides. The patent application was filed in December 2016. It says that when a rider requests a cab, the technology will collect the information about the activity of the rider and include it in the request of the rider. 

The patent, “Predicting User State Using Machine Learning” will identify the abnormal state in people by taking into consideration number of things like the typos made, links on the customer’s phones, his walking speed, and the way customer click on the phone and so on. 

The patent states that the behavior of the user will be compared to his prior behavior for determining the differences in his behavior. The technology will be equipped with the ability to make changes in the parameter of a service as per the prediction of the user’s sobriety state based on his request. 

An Uber spokesperson, Jodi Page said, “We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers. We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features.” 

Experts Believe Uber Tech Can Misfire

According to some privacy experts, the technology Uber is trying to implement can misfire and there is a strong possibility that it will discriminate against certain passengers especially with physical disabilities. And there is another worry which the experts point out. The technology can discourage the riders who are intoxicated from calling the service and they may take the decision to drive which can be riskier.

The director of the Privacy Project at the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, John Simpson, said that use of AI technology can damage the business model of the company as many riders use the service when they are drunk as they know it is unsafe to drive after drinking. 

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