Just about any handgun you can buy these days comes with a safety on it. The safety, as it’s name suggests, is a neat little device that, when activated, prevents a trigger pull from firing the weapon. And it’s a common feature on handguns because people are, by and large, stupid and irresponsible, which leads to us doing things that are stupid and irresponsible while wielding handguns. And if you have to let stupid, irresponsible people have dangerous things that they probably don’t really need, then it’s at least a good idea and more akin to a public service to at least include an off switch.
And while firearms manufacturers grudgingly arrived at this idea years ago, other industries are just now catching on to the fact that, regardless of what your local Bob Barr supporter will tell you, we do occasionally need protection from ourselves and the stupid, clumsy or ill advised things we get up to. This is the same reasoning that last week brought us a Gmail widget that makes you think twice before sending that slightly plowed rant to you boss or ill advised declaration of true and undying love to your ex. And it’s presumably the motive behind the DriveAssist software system from Canadian tech firm Aegis Mobility, a nifty piece of gadgetry for your cell phone that senses when you’re driving, forwards your calls to voicemail and won’t allow you to call out while you’re piloting a half ton of metal and plastic at sixty miles an hour down the freeway. There are certainly plenty of things to work out about the technology, which will be available as a monthly subscription service in the United Kingdom early next year. For one thing, a pay service will probably wind up appealing only to those responsible drivers who need this respite the most.
And there are bound to be technical kinks to work out as well. Will it let you talk on the phone when you’re on a bus or train. What about when you’re just riding in a car? And there’s the rather creepy matter of it being able to tell callers where you are when they call, a cringe inducing feature that will lead to no shortage of uncomfortable explanations from philandering spouses, to be sure. But just like a safety, it’s an imperfect solution to but one symptom of the seemingly intractable problem of humans being, but I’d rather someone have it than not.