The prospect of an intelligent, talking London bus is faintly terrifying. But according to the Guardian they will descend on us in summer 2009. This is the long awaited plan to fit the 8,000 buses with GPS and modern radios so the network knows precisely each bus is. The entertaining works of fiction that are the Countdown monitors at bus stops will suddenly become accurate to within seconds. And hopefully the controllers will be able to space the buses out more.
And the bus will talk, telling you which stop is next etc. what tourist attractions are coming up. Inevitably this has been labelled ‘i-bus’. It’s this bit that worries me. Writers over the years have pointed out the absurdity of making everyday devices too clever for their own good. Please can we be spared the talking bus – see the Red Dwarf artificially intelligent toaster (script), or Douglas Adams ‘Happy Vertical People Transporter‘, the talking lift that constantly tries to make its passengers happy. The cheery babbling drives people so mad that the lift only makes them happy when people find it broken.
Some things should just be stoic and silent, especially buses. On time is good, talkative bad.