Monday, December 29, 2014

No Snacks For You

English: Snack Machine
English: Snack Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other day, I was browsing through some of email news alerts that I subscribe to at work.  These alerts are usually related to the retail industry, with a heavy emphasis on the convenience store industry.  I was going to delete most of the emails, but one of the articles caught my eye and I had to check it out further.

The article was about a new vending machine that they have developed in Europe.  This vending machine uses facial recognition and can detect your age, build, and mood.  It will then go through a series of calculations, including past purchases, before the machine decides whether or not to allow you to complete the purchase.  So if you are stress eating your 4th Snickers bar of the day, good luck.  It also has the capability to tie into your medical records in the approval process.

This disturbs me on so many levels.  I know junk food is bad for me but sometimes I just need, no, want a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.  The machine doesn't have any idea what I have had to eat that day so how can it make an educated guess as to whether or not to sell me the product?  I might not even be buying the product for me.  Perhaps my son or a friend is with me and I am treating them to a snack.

Let's also talk about the fact that the machine has the potential to tie into my medical records.  That just blows my mind.  There are somethings that nobody should have access and medical records is one of those.  That info should only be accessible by me, my doctor, and my insurer.  I would not trust that the info would be safe from other eyes that have no business seeing it.

Of course my geeky side thinks that the technology is very neat.  However, that doesn't override in the least the objections I would have about it.  Way too much Big Brother for my liking.  I'd like to know what others think about it.  Would you want a soulless machine to deny you a snack because it doesn't like the look on your face when you try to make the purchase or would you like a machine making decisions for you?

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