Technology’s nothing to yawn about

Now technology is really starting to scare me.

I wasn’t concerned when cities started installing red light cameras; because I’m a law-abiding motorist, I don’t run red lights. That and the fact that getting t-boned at an intersection is a good way to ruin your day.

And it didn’t bother me when I read articles about how some stores can track my movements so they can tell how often I walk through men’s shoes and how long I linger in women’s undergarments; just about the only times I go shopping is when my wife drags me to a mall and most of my time is spent standing behind her at a cosmetics counter.

I don’t even mind that the government can read my e-mail, although I would like my tax dollars going toward something more significant than paying for some federal snoop to read messages from my wife reminding me to pick up the dry cleaning on my way home.

But what does worry me is that now there apparently is a machine that can tell when I want a cup of coffee merely by reading the expression on my face. Using facial recognition software, the machine automatically will dispense a cup of coffee if I merely stand in front of it and yawn.

According to a tech website, the machine has been set up at an airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s located in the international arrivals terminal, presumably under the assumption that anyone who had just flown across the Atlantic probably would be yawning like a hippo by the time they landed.

The story didn’t answer some important questions, such as: How does it know the person in the Johannesburg airport is yawning and not actually screaming because he just learned his luggage is in New Delhi?

And can it distinguish between someone who genuinely is yawning and someone who merely is faking it because all the add on charges to his airline ticket didn’t leave him with enough money to pay for a cup of coffee?

More importantly, will this lead to a machine that will be able to summon security when it recognizes by the expression on my face that I’m about to leap over the counter and throttle the ticket agent who just told me my flight has been canceled and the next one isn’t available until a week from Tuesday?

The whole story could be bogus, I suppose. Instead of some technological wizardry, maybe there’s actually a tiny little barista inside the machine.

But even thinking about stuff like this gives me the jitters. I can only hope that machine will know I want decaf.

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