Friday, January 27, 2006

Open the pod bay doors please

From Collision Detection, a great technology-and-society blog, news of an elevator system that can learn and react to use patterns. "Fujitec America Inc. -- an elevator company whose tagline is "The Art and Science of Moving People" --has developed a technique that is both more ethical and more mathematically interesting: An algorithm that eases elevator bottlenecks by intelligently grouping passengers based on their destination." You tell the elevator to which floor you want to go (rather than just "up" or "down," which has always struck me as stupid) , and based on other users' needs and on what the system knows about use patterns at, say, 8:30 a.m. or 5:05 p.m., the computer tells you which car to use.

Hmm. Not having been in an elevator now for months, after years of riding them daily, this sounds both kinda nice and a little scary. What if the elevator decides, for instance, that you fart altogether too much while riding solo?