Political correctness has found a new ally in "Themis," a new "trigger warning" detector developed by Zinah Issa, who unveiled the device at Dubai Design Week. She explained that the system was named after Themis, the Greek goddess of social order and justice.
According to the Daily Mail, Themis is a "lamp-sized device intended to 'moderate' debate in classrooms and universities and 'manifest political correctness' into a product." It could also be used to "police language at dinner parties and family gatherings." Its developers hope that the device would encourage "self-critique."
The trigger-warning device uses speech recognition and sound sensors to detect language such as racial slurs and offensive jokes through a microphone. Once detected, Themis will exhibit "extremely bothersome alarms" that "last approximately two minutes," after which the device would turn off. Issa explained that the device "[allows] an open, understanding discussion among people on the possible trigger matter and the potential reasons behind Themis's activation."
Themis is already being tested in classrooms and universities and developers hope to see a wider roll-out in the near future. It was first unveiled during the Global Grad Show, where students from the Middle East and North Africa showcased their new inventions.
According to The Blaze, Issa's research showed that people were less likely to speak up when they feel offended, compared to settings where people can be held accountable for their speech. She explained that Themis was designed to monitor speech in intimate social settings.
However, the exhibition showed that people were interested in the device's application in settings such as workplaces. Issa said that it was "something that we want to develop Themis around" and that they are preparing to send out more surveys to understand the product's target market and how it could be potentially tested "within educational and work settings such as universities, schools, and offices."
Meanwhile in the U.S., a new liberal arts institution has been established for advocates of free speech. University of Austin, an anti-censorship university "dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth" was announced through the Substack newsletter of ex-New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, Forbes reported. The university is backed by 31 "board of advisors," several of which are critics of the state of American higher education.
Such "advisors" include Harvard University President Lawrence Summers and Brown University economist Glenn Loury, who is widely known for opposing "wokeness." The school is also financially supported by Palantir Technologies co-founder Joe Lonsdale and a non-profit called Cicero Research, but it claims that it needs $250 million more for a successful launch.
"UATX is committed to freedom of inquiry as the precondition for the pursuit of truth," the university website read. "Others have abandoned this core mission of the university."
In terms of cost, the school is looking to develop "a financial model that streamlines administrative costs, which would allow us to provide lower tuition."