December 5, 2021

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New ‘trigger warning’ device being trialed in classrooms and universities

3 min read
New 'trigger warning' device being trialed in classrooms and universities

Outraged parents have slammed a new ‘trigger warning’ detector which sounds an alarm when it detects ‘offensive’ speech.

The Themis, a lamp-sized device intended to ‘moderate’ debate in classrooms and universities and ‘manifest political correctness’ into a product, sparked widespread controversy after it was unveiled at Dubai Design Week.

Named after the Greek goddess of justice and order, the gadget uses sound sensors to flag racial slurs and offensive jokes with an ‘extremely bothersome’ alarm that lasts two minutes before switching off to allow ‘open discussion’ about the subject.

But the revolutionary technology has been blasted for stifling discussion and opinion-sharing in an era when free speech is declining faster than ever before.

The Themis (pictured) emits irritating sounds when it detects racial slurs and 'offensive' jokes

‘Seriously. Is this a joke? Toughen up, people. It seems no one can even have a joke anymore. What is this world coming to,’ one woman wrote on Facebook.

Another added: ‘Children today need to be taught resilience like we were. Sadly people are being brought up “soft”. No one can take a joke. Sad.’

Others drew comparisons with George Orwell’s iconic dystopian social science fiction novel, 1984, a cautionary tale about the dangers of government censorship, mass surveillance, and the repressive regimentation of human behavior.

‘George Orwell 1984, read it and you’ll see,’ one man wrote.

‘This world has descended into the twilight zone in recent years,’ said a second, while a third asked: ‘Can people no longer think for themselves at all?’

Many said the invention makes them wonder if the world has gone mad.

‘This is a joke, right? Have we all gone insane and we just don’t know it yet?’ one person wrote.

Another said the device ‘takes stupid to a whole new level’.

While Themis is currently being trialed in classrooms and universities, its developers have said they hope it will encourage ‘self-critique at events such as dinner parties and family gatherings.

Zinah Issa, who unveiled the device in Dubai, told The Telegraph: ‘Through the use of speech recognition and sound sensors we were able to program Themis to detect offensive terms – racial slurs, offensive jokes – through the microphone.

‘Extremely bothersome alarms last approximately two minutes, after which Themis turns off, allowing an open, understanding discussion among people on the possible trigger matter and the potential reasons behind Themis’ activation.’

The Themis made its debut at the Global Grad Show where students from across the Middle East and North Africa were invited to share their work.

The show, which takes place annually at the Dubai Design Week festival, was moved online this year due to the pandemic.

The graduate portion of the festival concluded on Sunday, November 14.

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