- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 23, 2019

Amazon has a new gadget it’s developing that affixes to the wrist and reads human emotions.

Hmm. What could possibly go wrong here?

It’s not that a modern-day mood ring, which is what this smartphone app-in-works seems to be, is in itself a terrible idea. Rather, it’s the future potential uses that pose the pitfall.

Do we really need a technological breakthrough for machinery that can learn and tell emotion? Especially when science is already trying hard for artificial intelligence that can read minds and tell thoughts and dreams, as well?

Put it all together and we’re talking new race here — a new and mechanical race of robotic beings with the ability to feel and reason like humans.

Amazon’s device, being developed by the company’s Lab126 unit in partnership with Alexa, is voice-activated, code-named Dylan. And the reason for its development, according to Bloomberg, is to help wearers better interact with others. Whatever that means.

Long-term, though, is this: “The technology could help the company gain insights for potential health products or be used to better target advertising or product recommendations,” Bloomberg wrote.

Great. More data collection; more privacy scoops into the lives of individuals. Big Brother, meet Big Business, once again.

All to tell a wearer, hey wearer, you’re feeling happy right now?

No. This product, pure and simple, is for the good of the business and technology worlds, not for the consumer. It’s so companies can collect data on what products resonate well with consumers — with potential consumers — versus which ones fail. It’s so technology companies can generate some big-time profits with marketing and sales of their latest offerings to Big Business. And it’s so researchers for tech companies can grab up even more data that will feed their next artificial intelligence endeavor — that in turn will enrich the corporate world’s pockets once again.

But it’s the long-term that brings fright.

Creating a new breed of machinery that can think and feel as humans do has been the stuff of science fiction for decades. But that’s where that technology should stay — in the minds and imaginations of authors, movie-makers and script-writers.

Humans have enough trouble getting along. We don’t need to add a more indestructible, immortal breed to the mix.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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