Boredom detector
March 30, 2006 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I'd seen headlines about this on other sites, and I was thinking they had come up with something that could tell if you were telling a boring story based on your voice. I also don't happen to think that anything like that is possible. Obviously I hadn't thought it through.

Anyway, coming up with a program that can tell if someone is bored ought to be doable. It's something most people can do naturally.

Of course, there are signals we send which aren't picked up by other people, especially when we lie.

I wonder if in the future we'll see people walking around with all sorts of mind reading gizmos. Would that society be better or worse, I wonder?
posted by delmoi at 11:06 AM on March 30, 2006

Of course, pausing conversations to check your handheld electronic boredom meter won't be off-putting at all.

(Seriously, though, this is a fucking awesome use of technology.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:08 AM on March 30, 2006

As reported in a New Scientist article. Oh, the irony!
posted by RokkitNite at 11:11 AM on March 30, 2006

Oh man, this boring detector + this = happy mach5. It would also work well mashed up with that-robotic-arm-that-points-at-people-that-i-saw-on-the-net-like-a-week-ago-and-cant-find-now. Sweet!
posted by Mach5 at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2006

I wonder if in the future we'll see people walking around with all sorts of mind reading gizmos. Would that society be better or worse, I wonder?
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM EST on March 30 [!]

Maybe it'd be accompanied by more signaling gizmos? If you have a 'how hot do you think I am?' sensor you might as well have a 'here's how hot I find you' output.

Although, body language isn't *that* hard to read or signal through.
posted by Firas at 11:16 AM on March 30, 2006

Why is this an exclusionary function? I know plenty who are boring and irritating!
posted by sourwookie at 11:17 AM on March 30, 2006

They need to find a way of making this work on blogs.

posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on March 30, 2006

GEORGE: I can sense the slightest human suffering.

JERRY: Are you sensing anything right now?

posted by MrZero at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2006

rta. It will cause the glasses of the wearer to vibrate, telling them that they're being boring.

heh...if this is the same article that's been linked to everywhere else...
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:57 AM on March 30, 2006

We need one of this hardwired into the MeFi server filtering front page posts.
posted by loquacious at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2006

It should send a shock to the privates of the user. I don't know about you, but nothing entertains me quite as much as watching someone do the "Ow, my area just got zotzed" dance out of the blue.
posted by deusdiabolus at 12:14 PM on March 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I feel like the autism angle is getting overlooked. Boredom detection is an easy snark target, but there's a genesis of a great idea in trying to provide social tools for people suffering from autism. I'm skeptical about its efficacy, but it's still an admirable goal.
posted by heresiarch at 12:16 PM on March 30, 2006

I want a device to let me know if someone else is boring or irritating,soI can avoid them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on March 30, 2006

heresiarch: Yes, the autism angle is the entire point of the creating the software in the first place, but it isn't as funny, so it isn't much of an angle.

autism and computing has a lot more stuff, but a title like "Monotropism Hypothesis" isn't exactly a best-selling headline next to something like "Scientists detect boredom."
posted by srs at 12:35 PM on March 30, 2006

I want a device to let me know if someone else is boring or irritating,soI can avoid them.

watch out for people whose eyeglasses vibrate
posted by srs at 12:37 PM on March 30, 2006

These eyeglasses, they vibrate?

sorry, carry on.
posted by loquacious at 12:47 PM on March 30, 2006

Me, I instantly thought of the myriad uses at places like the San Diego Comic Con. With a little re-engineering, and connected tasers, and then require the Cat Piss Men and the MouthBreathers to wear them as a condition of entering the show...and whenever they did something stupid, or annoying, they got a shock, right to the goodies! Yeah.

But that's mostly just for my amusement factor, really. (Can't you picture it though...the room would sound like it was filled with bug zapper, and there would be a carpet of twitching, smelly fanbois clutching mylar bags...but at least they wouldn't be at nasal and ocular level. Such a lovely improvement it would make, really. )
posted by dejah420 at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2006

dejah, Mouthbreathers I know, but who are the Cat Piss Men?
posted by ernie at 2:02 PM on March 30, 2006

^Smelly dudes, I assume.

I donno, couldn't an autistic person just take classes for stuff like this? I imagine a stage director could tell them when they were being boring and what bored looks like.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:32 PM on March 30, 2006

I think that saying "teach the autistic person to read body language" is like saying "tell the depressed person to cheer up" or "teach the ADD person to pay attention", in the sense that you can have mild to extreme versions of all these issues, and for some 'kinda' depressed people just an inspirational book or way of thinking about things may work; for others therapy, or coping skills work; and some need chemical intervention (in things like ADD, this is almost inevitable, in things like depression, it depends on the person.)

So various solutions exist to help autistic people function in a manner that helps them get what they want from an almost universally non-autistic world, and teaching them 'skills' alone may not cut it, because they'd have to consciously process what most of us 'just do', and someone who's a 'natural' at something is usually going to be ahead of someone who has to learn it from the basics (a brash statement, but humour me here—my point is that even after learning these skills an autistic person would be uneasy in dealing with these things).

(Another thing to note when thinking about this is that autism is an extremely complex/relatively vague set of symptoms and 'social skills' is just part of it. By the way, I'm strictly of the laity when it comes to psychology, medicine, etc. I may be way off base.)
posted by Firas at 9:51 AM on March 31, 2006

The link I posted in the thread has more about why specialized software is more the route to take with autistics, rather than your average community college class in speech or interpersonal communication. here it is again.
posted by srs at 2:40 PM on March 31, 2006

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