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Safety first

The best-selling book Nudge enraptured politicians with its ideas of how people could be 'nudged', rather than forced, into doing things that are good for them - for example, by making schemes like pensions opt-out rather than opt-in, you can wildly increase takeup without encountering resistance from libertarian types.

Now it seems that, through the ever-changing magic box that is the iPhone, the principles of 'Nudge' are coming to tech. Take, for example, this new Slow Down iPhone app. Made by the Belgian charity OKV, a road-safety campaign, the device provides ingenious 'nudges' to drivers who are going a wee bit too fast. Specifically, it slows down their music - at least, as long as they're playing it through their phone. The faster above the speed limit they're going, the more their Lady Gaga is slowed to an unlistenable crawl - until they themselves slow down, and their music is restored to its normal pace. Got that?

There's no video, so it's hard to get a precise sense of how well this wacky idea works - but you can't help but love the principle. Soon there'll be a phone app which warns you if the car you're about to recklessly overtake is driven by undercover policemen, probably.

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