So there’s a new service available in Korea through cell phone operator KTF that will supposedly analyze voice patterns to see whether a lover is honest, attentive, passionate, or whatever.
The first response most people have is one I share: yeah, right. As in, I doubt we’re quite at the point where such an analysis can reasonably be made from a single cell phone call.
But that’s not such an interesting observation. I mean, someday we doubtless will be at that point. We’ll be able to analyze voice prints (and other peripheral sound, like breathing patterns, for example) and compare them to older archived samples of the same person to be able to tell a lot about them. This day probably will come, and how we handle it when our very voices speak volumes about is is a very interesting question.
But that’s not the only useful question. The other useful question to ask is, if we had such a service, who would use it most? One imagines the same people who try it now will use it then. And the people who’re going to be willing to try it now will be the very people you wouldn’t want to get involved with: those who are insecure, jealous, possessive, and incapable of trusting a partner.
Like the girlfriend of a student I once knew, whose girlfriend had gotten access to his cell phone account so that not only could she call him ten times a day, but she could also track his movements around town using the GPS phone-locator function by logging onto the website tied to his phone account. She was a nightmare, and I am certain she will use this service at least once a week on her current man, though luckily it’s not the guy I know — he got sick of her drama and dumped her a few weeks after discovering she’d been tracking him daily.
(And yeah, there are reasons some people become like that. Some people know all too well that it’s impossible to be sure someone else is honest all the time. Some people have been burned by ex-lovers with a talent for lying. Some people are insecure because of such experiences. But I think a lot of people are insecure because they learn to be insecure about themselves from an early age, and anyway, plenty of people who have bad experiences don’t turn into relationship control-freaks. And even if they have reasons for being like that, it doesn’t make them less of a pain to be involved with!)
In any case, the idea behind this technology is not half so interesting as the idea of what will happen when it gets generalized. Who will use it, and who will refuse to do so? How much of the “cranial privacy” — the privacy that was once afforded us by our skulls — will disappear in the future? What will our countemeasures — technological and otherwise — be?
Can’t you just see job interviews descending into some sort of Voight-Kampff Test? Wait, maybe that’d be easier.