In the future according to technology giant Intel, cars will become very smart, much like HAL the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Equipped with sensors, data recorders and the ability to communicate wirelessly from vehicle to vehicle, Intel’s car of the future will report potholes to municipal authorities, block drivers from going the wrong way down a one way street and can even work with onboard cameras to determine street names and provide ‘hands on’ navigation. Should you be unfit to drive (maybe that second bottle of wine wasn’t a good idea after all), the Intel based car could, in theory, have the ability to get you home safely.
Sounds good, right? Not so fast: every upside typically has a downside, and you need to be afraid of the downside proposed by Intel. Their smart cars will record information on vehicle speed and location. They’ll log data on acceleration, braking and steering, and in the event of an accident will send that data (along with a handy video feed) to the police. It gets better, since the ever helpful Intel smart car will also notify your insurance company of your misfortune.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of being tried and convicted before the police even arrive on scene is a bit frightening to me. Will the car also notify your insurance company (and local police) that you’ve exceeded the speed limit? Changed lanes without signaling? Took that phone call without a wireless headset? Frankly, I have no interest in finding out and will stop buying (and driving) new cars if a system like this ever goes into production. It’s not that I’m a dangerous or aggressive driver (although I do drive way too fast to worry about my cholesterol), it’s just that I don’t want my insurance company of local police monitoring my every activity behind the wheel. So much for freedom.
Insurance companies love this technology, as long as it can be implemented in a cost effective manner. No surprise here, because it will give insurers the ability to deny significantly more claims than they do today, and there’s nothing that makes insurer’s quite as happy as increased profits.
Thanks to Dave for sending me the link to the original article on Switched, and for ramping up my paranoia.