Don’t worry, it’s to save lives, not to invade your privacy…
For the past few years we’ve all be inundated with a plethora of restrictions on freedom. For those with the temerity to complain, they were quickly hit with some saying about how if the seemingly illogical barriers were to save just one life, they were justified. Sadly, those restrictions have fueled more problems, from kids with severe mental health challenges to an economy caught in a downward spiral. I’m naturally skeptical of so-called harmless government intervention given the historical track record of those in power, so General Motors’ recent announcement that it will be sharing driver and vehicle data with the US government set off alarms in my head.
Watch the Motorious Podcast here or listen to it on your favorite podcasting platform.
Using the cloud-based application Safety View, a joint venture between GM and INRIX, the automaker hopes to eventually achieve “zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” says Alan Wexler, GM senior vice president of Strategy and Innovation. On the surface that sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world without pain and suffering?
To accomplish this, local, state, and federal authorities will have access to safety and demographic data from GM customers. Yes, Big Brother is literally watching while you’re driving. That info is supposed to be used for singling out “hazardous roadway segments” because there’s just no other way to assess such a thing.
Here’s the thing: every time men (and women) have tried forming a utopian society it’s been an abject failure. You can’t regulate away imperfection, but today we want to believe our advanced technologies can do just that. This is yet another example of the folly of mankind as we try taking our fancy new wax wings for a glorious ride to the sun.
It gets even better: GM is evaluating a program called Vision Zero. It would allow officials with “near real-time insights” into driver and vehicle data. This all reads like something out of sci-fi movies and books like Minority Report or 1984, which I used to think were allegorical, but now I’m wondering. With so much personal information at their disposal, what would government officials really do?
In its official press release, GM openly talks about the Infrastructure Law providing around $5 billion of your money to help fund this Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program. Knowing that the government uses our hard-earned cash to coordinate with huge corporations to essentially spy on Americans just isn’t comforting. Yes, GM says the data will be anonymized and some people will absolutely believe that as gospel truth. Again, that nagging history of data privacy being abused for ostensibly good reasons just won’t go away in my head. What someone who thinks they’re on a holy crusade to save society could do with such information is disconcerting.
Don’t worry, you can totally trust GM. Remember that one time when taxpayers spotted the company a few billion dollars and the automaker said it would totally pay us back? Yeah, a lot of people haven’t forgotten about that. Taxpayers, you and me, lost $11.2 billion and GM couldn’t even provide a decent explanation about why. Just try asking Mary Barra about that and see what kind of response you get.