One of the greatest things about new technology is how easy it is for us to abuse it under the guise of "innovation." Centuries ago, paper was worth its weight in gold, and now we use it to wipe our butts. That's the type of non-dangerous innovation we need in our world today. But instead, we're getting stupid things like ...
In an effort to keep up with the likes of Google and bored college students, Ford has gotten into the no-people-in-the-car car business. However, rather than go the cool "self-driving" route, Ford decided to put some good old-fashioned human liability into their project. Behold, your auto industry bailout dollars at work.
Like that friend who brings non-alcoholic beer to a party, Ford took something that's normally good in moderation and made it totally unbearable. They claim it's best used for things like valet parking and helping the elderly get their groceries, but that's kind of what we invented teenagers for.
Anyway, once the controllers are installed in the vehicle, it uses a 4G connection to pick up interactions from someone behind the totally-not-reconfigured-from-a-Wii wheel. This enables the car to be operated from thousands of miles away. However, as anyone familiar with 4G is keenly aware (we're looking at you, Verizon), the signal is likely to be dropped at precisely the most inopportune moment possible.
Connectivity issues aren't the only problems associated with this car. Despite the fact that the system could be easily hacked and controlled by anyone with the wherewithal to do such a thing, there's no way to police the person sitting behind the monitor. They could be drunk out of their minds -- or worse, playing Grand Theft Auto V on another screen.
Well, we couldn't rail on Ford and not also find something to rip into General Motors about. You got off easy this time, Chrysler. But man, if there are two things we could use less of in our day-to-day lives, it's spam and distractions in our cars. Unfortunately for literally everybody who has to deal with roads, General Motors' OnStar service has decided to combine both of these nightmares into a vicious hydra known as AtYourService.
Because everyone loves pop-up ads, OnStar has partnered up with major corporations such as Dunkin' Donuts to track your every move and spam your dashboard with advertisements geared toward places that you frequent. So between sending texts and changing the radio, drivers can now squint at their dashboard trying to decipher a deal on hazel-swirl iced coffees while trying to dodge traffic. GM's official reasoning (and totally not an admission of invasion of privacy) was that folks are booking hotels and ordering food from their phones while in the car anyway, so they may as well encourage that behavior, but on a bigger screen.
Worse yet, these advertisements will cue in your passengers to exactly the type of places you frequent.
Among the original partners (in addition to Dunkin') were RetailMeNot and Entertainment Book, who were happy to ensure that customers were inundated with deals on your dashboard. We're sure the person you accidentally rear-end while staring at coupons will totally understand once you show them what a good deal just popped up.
And this was only the beginning. As of early 2016, they've added both Groupon and ExxonMobil, in case Rebecca couldn't remember to print out that free appetizer voucher at home and Meredith couldn't be bothered to fill up her gas tank before offering to drive on girls' night out.
While it's true that in this day and age, people are becoming more and more obsessed with their mobile devices and less in touch with our fellow humans, we'd like to kindly posit that perhaps the answer to this problem is not another app.
A tech startup has taken it upon themselves to combat the problem of loneliness by developing a meetup app which skips the pointless chit-chat of eHarmony and the webcam models of Tinder and gets straight to the important part: hugging.
The app is called Hug Me (found at, we're not kidding, www.hugmeapplication.com), and its release was anticipated about as much as a fart in a warm elevator. The poor Kickstarter campaign only raised $50 of its $100,000 goal, all from one very lonely backer.
Despite the fact that no one (sorry, just one) asked for this, the creators made it easily accessible and downloadable for almost any device:
To try to drum up excitement, the company made an accompanying commercial to demonstrate its effectiveness, which looks like a deleted scene from a Spike Jonze movie. As of this article's writing, it has a tragically low 12,000 views.
Once you have the app installed, it enables you to find other perfectly sane individuals looking to hug it out near you.
They also give you a helpful scenario in which you may need to find someone to hug -- for instance, on the subway:
If you're in such a sad state that you feel the need to install this app in the first place, we're going to have to ask you to sit down, because we've got even worse news for you: It's probably only going to remind you how alone in the world you really are. Once installed on your phone, perhaps the cruelest message known to mankind pops up to inform you that, sadly, "There's no one around you to hug."
Most folks who didn't have a cellphone growing up have probably at some point reminded someone younger than themselves that they grew up perfectly fine without one, dagnabbit. On the other hand, Fisher-Price, creators of all things bright, plastic, and nontoxic, have decided that the appropriate age to start turning people into phone-addicted zombies is "fresh out of the womb."
However, this wasn't without controversy. Presumably because all the Apple Geniuses had passed out in horror, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which aims to reduce the amount of screen time infants and toddlers are exposed to, started a petition against the seat (to be ironically filled out online). After a strong initial push at its onset in 2013, breaking the 13,000-signature mark, apathy seems to have set in. To make matters worse, the American Academy of Pediatrics claims that too much screen exposure for infants can actually be harmful for children and hinder language development.
But perhaps even more disturbing than an iPad bouncy seat is an iPad attached to what we will with a straight face call a potty. Another company wants to cash in on the fact that playing on our phones while going to the bathroom has become one of our favorite pastimes in the 21st Century by zoning in on the ever-popular infant market. Besides the aforementioned detail that too much screen time is not good for toddlers, there's also the little fact that babies play with their poop.
Fortunately, these products seem to have pretty, uh, crappy reviews. No need to bother with this until a few generations in.
Probably contrary to popular belief, the biggest source of plane crashes is rich people with money to blow. Unfortunately, all of that fancy-pants technology in that there flyin' machine has a bad tendency to fail at really inconvenient times, and by that we mean "in the air." However, thanks to an app called Xavion, we may now have the safety of an emergency autopilot that won't require inflation.
If some sort of unforeseen circumstances caused engine failure or the pilots to be incapacitated, the app would take control, finding out the location of the nearest airport and guiding the plane to the runway. In an ideal situation, a pilot would be able to take over for a soft landing, but if not, the worst that would happen would be crushed peanuts and destroyed landing gear.
As handy as this may sound on paper, there's the terrifying reality that you are controlling an airplane with an iPad. We all know how often apps crash on our devices, and that's just when trying to send a picture of your junk on Snapchat. Even hoping everything runs smoothly on the device itself, would you really trust your fellow airplane passenger to land a plane? Worse yet, what sort of air chaos would happen if this technology got into the wrong hands?
For more really not great ideas, check out 5 Bad Ideas Humanity Is Sticking With Out Of Habit and The 10 Most Ridiculous Inventions Ever Patented.
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