I was reading an article today that said how a transportation company had applied for a patent that could detect drunk passengers and alert the driver prior to pick up.

There followed a debate about whether this was intrusion on people’s right to be drunk, or a means of making money off people not completely in control of their faculties or refusing to pick up those in need of their services.

The company was arguing that this would help them alter the app to allow an easier interface with the company. It could also ensure that drop off points were safe, well-lit and accessible. It could also restrict the potential dangers of lift share etc.

The argument was also one about privacy, as in terms of who has the right to delve into people’s lives when all they want is a ride home.

We could turn to regulation, but for me, this has never proved an easy or complete way to approach such issues.

For me the whole matter rests on the moral and ethical approach of the organisation developing the software. If the company is genuinely driven by trying to provide a better, safer and more reliable service I applaud that. For any parent of a teenager, who likes to go out of an evening and has been known to consume a glass or two, it would provide comfort that this organisation is aware of what teenagers do and provides a framework around their behaviour which de-risks a part of their evening out.

There is, of course, not very much people can do to prevent such organisations using that knowledge to raise tariffs, or take liberties, or even to avoid pick ups. I believe though that today’s society is increasingly savvy and has a means of routing out those companies which seek to take unfair advantage from their ability to capture and manipulate data using AI.

This, to return to a common theme of mine, is mainly set and led by those at the head of the organisation. Are they truly driven by providing better services to their customers in order to retain their market advantage or are they driven by the analysts and investors demands for revenue and margin?

Personally, I do not see those two drivers in conflict, but the order is important, as rarely do organisations succeed when driven by purely financial objectives. However, those truly driven by improving customer service, and maintaining a close relationship with their customers often do.

I believe the future also belongs to those organisations, greatly aided by technology and AI for the good.