find the idea disturbing

raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

What does "the idea" refer to in the following?

Some machines now in production can use facial recognition technology. They can identify and greet users, remember their preferences, and even refuse them certain products. For example, they won’t give out cigarettes or alcohol to children or junk food to an obese person. Some people might find the idea disturbing, but for better or worse, smart vending machines could soon be part of our everyday shopping experience.

I'd appreciate your help.
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    As a consumer it wouldn't disturb me if a vendig machine recognized me and remembered my preferences. It would, however, disturb me if it refused to sell me a bag of doritos based on how I looked. :rolleyes:
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It's a little ambiguous, but if 'the idea' referred to 'facial recognition technology' I'd expect 'some people might find this ability [to recognize and greet people] disturbing' rather than 'this idea.'

    Some people say the idea refers forward to "smart vending machines could soon be part of our everyday shopping experience."

    Could "the idea" refer to something already present or just something that has yet to come into being?
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    Some people say the idea refers forward to "smart vending machines could soon be part of our everyday shopping experience."
    Sure, it could refer to that also.
    If "Some people might find the idea disturbing, but for better or worse, smart vending machines could soon be part of our everyday shopping experience." were at the beginning of a paragraph, then "the idea" would clearly look ahead. Here, it's apparently at the end of a paragraph, so I see it as referring back.
     
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