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Zap! Watch out for those bad habits - they might start to shock.

Posted by Unlock Editor on

The Dystopian World draws ever nearer. With each passing day new technologies are being unveiled to help force us out of those 'bad habits' that we all seem to love so much. And with technology so prevalent in our lives, it's only going to get worse: it'll be more intrusive and watchful, and it will be everywhere, inescapable! 

The product that has caught our attention in the Unlock editorial suite (located at the back of the biscuit cupboard, just below the kettle!) is the unveiling of the Pavlock! This little wristband delivers an electric shock every time you go into overdraft, and is designed to 'encourage' (torture) people into not getting into debt. 

Of course there are a host of other uses that this can be used for too - many of them would need us to be writing after the 9 o'clock watershed for us to note down here, but surely one of these problems is that the only people who will use this technology are people who are already aware of their problems and possess the understanding that they need to change! It's not going to be taken up by those rogues who, conversely, are most in need of change but who have no desire for it. 

And let's take this one step further. In our Facebooked and networked age, will our peers receive automatic updates about our failings to help 'shame' us into better behaviour? You can imagine it now: "Penelope has just tried to purchase a bar of chocolate - we zapped her and saved her an hour on the treadmill to burn off those excess calories. Click here to listen to the audio of her third zap of the day! Her screech reaches 110 decibels!" 

It's a peculiar form of Orwellian control that seems to be taking us over. Unlike in 1984, it hasn't stamped on our faces or forced itself on us, but it is seducing us. Big Brother isn't the right description. In Pavlock's case, Kinky Mistress would be more apt. 

In my experience of life, peer pressure and 'nudging' does seem to work over time. Smokers have gone from those hip cool rogues who challenged authority to being shivering exiles, condemned to spend their lives outside under the malicious English weather. Drink drivers are no longer tolerated (and to be fair, that is quite right), or even out of control drinking to a lesser extent. People seem to be embracing a more responsible approach on a broad level - with the aforementioned exception of those who genuinely have no desire to do so. 

And where does Apple stand in this? As such a behemoth of a company, with so many products being researched such as cars and watches, they are the facilitator of much of what will piggyback on their technologies. Apple's success has been in no small part due to the thousands of apps that have been released for their iPhones, and that was made possible by letting small developers access to their technology. 

Who knows what future app is in development someplace in the world to help us combat the scourge of littering, lack of exercise, casual swearing or to ensure we get enough fibre with our five a day. But no doubt one thing is true, as network connections improve, and as the technology gets better, our phones will exert ever more control over our lives. Are we ready for it? Or does it simply mean that we are abrogating our own responsibilities?

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