SkyNet is smiling at this one, a silly episode, but one to which attention must be paid.
In Great Britain, a computer confused a woman’s ‘KNITTER’ T-shirt with motorist David Knight’s vanity plate reading ‘KN19TER.’ He was sent a notice of a fine for driving in the bus lane in Bath, England, 120 miles from Surrey, where he lives. The CCTV system monitoring the bus lane thought it had recorded Knight’s Volkswagen Transporter because its license plate, “KN19TER” was too close to the attractive T-shirt worn by a woman walking in the bus lane. Nobody had bothered to look at the photo; they just let the system send Knight a citation and a demand that he pay a fine.
Fortunately, it was easy to clear this up, and everyone is having a good laugh about it. No one should be laughing. It is unethical to trust and rely on any technology to that extent, but humans being humans, it is inevitable that they will, especially the longer a variety of technology is in use and the more reliable it is perceived as being.
Today it’s an easily dismissed fine, tomorrow it’s “The Terminator,” “The Corbin Project,” “Blade Runner,” “War Games” and “2001.”