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September 4, 2015

App created to tell slow people that they are bored and why this is a bad idea

Filed under: My Thoughts — Suramya @ 12:10 AM

A couple of hours after I wrote the last post, I saw this tweet from PopSci that linked to a study on boredom done by researchers from Telefonica Research in Spain. Basically the researchers created an app that detects if the owner of a smart phone was bored and if the app thinks that the user is bored, it pop’s up a suggestion for the user to visit BuzzFeed.com to alleviate their boredom.

From a technical perspective the study is quite interesting because the researchers managed to train a machine to identify signs of an emotion with up to 80% accuracy (though for a very limited set of users). If the study can be validated for a larger data set the the same algorithm can be incorporated into other systems like computer games to allow the game to make itself more interesting by throwing twists/surprises when the it feels that the player is getting bored.

However if you taking the technical aspect aside then I don’t think this is a good idea. The whole idea behind killing boredom is to use your creativity to come up with alternatives but if you are so dependent on devices that you can’t even be bothered to figure out that you are bored then there is no way you will be motivated to think up ways to kill your boredom. Long term that means that a lot of people will stop thinking creatively and become solely dependent on an external system to amuse them. I shouldn’t have to explain why that is what can charitably be called a ‘BAD IDEA’.

Basically if an external party is providing all the entertainment for the public then they are in a position of immense power and very few leaders would be able to resist the temptation to abuse such power. So if that leader wants to invade another country all they have to do is tell the public that unless they invade that country they would not be able to maintain the level of entertainment that they are used to and they would get all the support they require. If you think I am over-reacting about then think about the Roman empire, the entire gladiator arena was constructed to keep the masses entertained and as long of the people were entertained they didn’t care what was happening to the kingdom or how corrupt their leaders were becoming.

Well this is all for now. I am going to go entertain myself by finishing my book and then crashing for the night.

– Suramya

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