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Uber Seeks Patent For AI That Determines Whether Passengers Are Drunk ( 102

In an effort to "reduce undesired consequences," Uber is seeking a patent that would use artificial intelligence to separate sober passengers from drunk ones. The pending application details a technology that would be used to spot "uncharacteristic user activity," including passenger location, number of typos entered into the mobile app, and even the angle the smartphone is being held. CNET reports: Uber said it had no immediate plans to implement the technology described in the proposed patent, pointing out the application was filed in 2016. "We are always exploring ways that our technology can help improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers," a spokesperson said. "We file patent applications on many ideas, but not all of them actually become products or features."

Uber Seeks Patent For AI That Determines Whether Passengers Are Drunk

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hell, so that explains it! Here I thought text messages like "wut r u doing 2nite?" were because of the monumental failure of our educational system. Now I know it's from the monumental success of our alcohol industry.

    • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @06:28AM (#56782244)

      So, training a machine learning with sampled data is now patentable?
      Does that also mean I can patent 'Training a person to .......'?
      That has never been allowable before, why is it allowable now?

      Oh, I forgot, the US patent office allows large US companies to patent ANYTHING, totally ignoring actual patent law.

      • This *shouldn't* be patentable, per the rule that obvious things shouldn't be patentable. Just reading the headline, my immediate set of thoughts on how to infer drunkenness included all of the ones mentioned in the summary (typos, accelerometer info, location) and then some (scanning text messages for "so fucked up"/"alcohol"/"drinking"/"partying", correlating previous instances of all such conditions cyclically in a week or per an individual binge recovery period, sensing flashing lights, etc). This stuff
      • by mjwx ( 966435 )
        FFS people, its a check box that asks if you want to stop by a kebab shop... Stick a design patent on it and move on.
      • So, training a machine learning with sampled data is now patentable? Does that also mean I can patent 'Training a person to .......'? That has never been allowable before, why is it allowable now?

        Oh, I forgot, the US patent office allows large US companies to patent ANYTHING, totally ignoring actual patent law.

        That's the F-up part of software patents -- allow something to be patented when they aren't supposed to. That's why software should never be patentable.

  • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NerdENerd ( 660369 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @03:09AM (#56781908)
    Being drunk is why I am getting an Uber FFS. If they wont pick me up drunk then they have lost my business.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It'll pick you up. It'll just charge you more because you are a high risk passenger.

      Cabbies are tired of cleaning up your vomit.

      Maybe if you want to get drunk you can do so at home where you can clean up after your own self.

      • Re: WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mouldy ( 1322581 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @05:24AM (#56782164)
        That's fair enough, charge people who vomit more. But as someone who has gotten many ubers drunk, has never thrown up in or near an uber and generally doesn't cause a fuss...I don't want to be tarred with the same "all drunk people need to be charged more" brush.

        Maybe they should have some sort of star rating. Like, if you're an asshole, or you throw up in ubers, the driver could rate you badly. Then later uber drivers can charge more to pick up someone with a low rating. That way, good-passengers don't get penalised because of the idiotic minority - and the driver has an indication whether a potential passenger is likely to cause them problems.

        ...maybe that already exists...and this story is either; a lazy PR stunt (this doesn't need AI, but AI gets press), or a genuine greedy attempt at ripping more cash from their customer's hands.
        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          No way that they would rate people who tip higher. Or rate people who do not tip 'enough' get lower ratings. OK, it is not a tip, it is a voluntary financial initiative, because tipping is not allowed with Uber and they are not a taxi company, so giving money is not tipping.
          And if tipping IS allowed, then the same would apply.

          • by Mouldy ( 1322581 )
            I'm not sure if it varies by country, but here at least, the uber app lets you tip. And the uber driver cannot see how much you tip until after they rate you.
        • No shit....

          If they stop driving folks around that have been drinking, those folks will go back to driving themselves.

          Hell, the #1 reason I started using Uber was that it was such a great alternate option to having to drive my own car out when having adult beverages (I live in New Orleans, EVERY outing involves alcohol), and getting back home, etc.

          I would venture to guess that is one of the top if not the main reason people use Uber these days.

      • Maybe cab-driving isn't for you. No worries, driverless will soon eat your lunch, and with a little luck, it won't puke it back up.

      • Asshole, you get charged 300 dollars if you get sick. You are a fucking idiot.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @03:30AM (#56781960)
      You miss the point of this AI. It is to help Uber drivers find victims [], not to avoid them.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        help Uber drivers find victims []

        Reading the story ... she was drunk, she made an advance on him, and he consented to sex. And he's accused of rape? Really? If the sexes were the other way around, they'd be more likely to accuse the *drunk* of rape.

        • by _merlin ( 160982 )

          I can see why he went for it, but as they say when you're getting the basics for counselling, the first rule is "stay behind the desk", and the second rule is "always stay behind the desk". When have a professional relationship of any kind, you absolutely must avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    • And they're not suggesting they won't pick you up. they developed the technology. They might as well benefit if others find a use for it.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Funny)

      by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @05:02AM (#56782120)

      No, I think this patent was about their self-driving car. To be turing complete, a self-driving car should probably be able to yell at its passengers to sit the fuck back down and to put their pants back on before safely exiting the vehicle.

      Since they filed this application in 2016, at the time they probably still had high hopes for their self-driving platform.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I assumed "separate sober passengers from drunk ones." means they don't want the Uber X to commingle the two.

      This makes sense I think, if I'm heading out at 8pm, I don't wanna share with someone leaving a happy hour wrecked.

  • by THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER ( 2473494 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @03:24AM (#56781942)
    ...because isn't that more important?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wait a second, I am confused? You weren't supposed to file a patent for an idea. Ideas were supposedly unpatentable. What you were supposed to file a patent for was a method of using or achieving the said idea, but otherwise ideas had no place in patents

  • Just a Thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @03:49AM (#56781990) Homepage

    While they're at it, can they patent a car that doesn't kill pedestrians?

    • They tried to but there was lots of prior art. []

    • While they're at it, can they patent a car that doesn't kill pedestrians?

      You are talking about thousands of pounds of metal moving at scores of miles per hour. There is no way to prevent it from killing pedestrians if things go wrong (and there's no way to completely prevent things from going wrong).

      • by dohzer ( 867770 )

        Sure there is: always travel at a speed at which you can stop in the event of the unexpected.
        Of course, that may mean extremely slow rides and sad passengers (especially the wealthy ones), but it would work.

  • Not AI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrbester ( 200927 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @03:55AM (#56781998) Homepage

    As someone pointed out on Twitter, this isn't AI but an if statement.

  • I'm no patent lawyer, so maybe I'm not up on the jargon, and maybe "Systems, methods, and vehicles for taking a vehicle out-of-service" means "detecting if someone is drunk", but the link here and in the article seem to point me to an unrelated patent.
  • what could've been solved with a simple air sensor detecting alcohol in the air, now it has to be "AI".
    But what I'm talking about... if it was for the sensor practical and 100% working solution, it wouldn't have made it to the news.
    meanwhile at Uber HQ: "Hello idiot investors. We have to use AI for this solution. Pliz gib more moneeh."
    Just your daily dosage of faux tech.

  • Maybe they should have one fir drivers first tho !!

  • Why would Uber care? It is 2am Especially on a weekend. Save your computing cycles, probably drinking. One of the attractions to ride services can drink and not drive. Why not just ask the passengers instead of going into creepy mode?
  • I'd like an AI that tells me if the _driver_ is drunk, the passengers are almost always legally drunk after a certain hour, that's why they take an Uber instead of driving under the influence.

  • Disabled people, particularly those with cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and other neuromotor conditions, are absolutely going to be misidentified as drunk and discriminated against by Uber. Uber currently has a crappy track record serving the disabled, refusing service to those with wheelchairs, guide dogs, and so on. The drunk hail an Uber when they shouldn't be driving. Many disabled hail an Uber because, sober or drunk, they cannot drive at all.
    • The difference is, someone who's disabled might ALWAYS exhibit symptoms that someone who's NOT handicapped might show ONLY when drunk. If you treat every analysis as a stateless, history- and context-free event, they might look alike. Factor in "all the time" vs "between 11pm Friday and dawn Monday + located within 200 feet of a bar", and the ones likely to be drunk instead of disabled start to stand out again.

      The biggest real problem with using AI as judge, jury, and executioner is the casual acceptance of

  • by old_skul ( 566766 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @10:31AM (#56783114) Journal

    It doesn't take a whole lot of AI to know that pretty much EVERY passenger is drunk when you're driving Uber at 2AM in a university area.

  • I now need a "designated Uber-summoner"? :P

    That said, the app is so bad and frustrating (keeps deleting input, etc.) that I probably would look drunk using it even stone sober...

  • Simpler solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TraumaFox ( 1667643 ) on Thursday June 14, 2018 @12:44PM (#56784082)
    I'm willing to bet that you'd get a better ratio of honest answers by simply presenting an "Are you drunk?" checkbox than all the false positives you'd get from trying to use AI to determine drunkenness.
  • Is passenger drunk? "Yes"
    Very few false positives.
  • We're just high on life.

  • Almost everybody can tell when somebody is really bad drunk. You know the obvious signs - nearly falling down, slurred speech, etc.. The people who have been drinking and are not obviously drunk are not a problem. So what does the AI add that humans can't do?
  • If they're calling for an Uber... yep, they must be drunk!
  • Too bad Foster Brooks [] is no longer available to test this AI.

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