Saturday, January 19, 2019

Looks like we'll pay to have our privacy invaded - whether we want to or not

Eric Peters points out the downside to all these new-fangled car gadgets and systems.

There is a saying that goes, if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. But what if you’re paying for it – and you’re still the product?

Welcome to your next new car – previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas earlier this month – in which you’ll be surrounded by new technology designed to “monetize” everything from your musical preferences (it knows which stations you like) to where you like to go (it keeps track of where and when) and what you like to eat.

. . .

That data [will be] used to construct a pastiche of your inclinations, which will then be sold to a company interested in trying to sell you something based on that knowledge of your inclinations.

And the insurance mafia is interested as well. Have you been buckling up? Accelerating – or braking – “aggressively”? It’s no longer just between the two of you – you and your car.

Your car is now a narc – one you get to pay to narc you out.

. . .

One of the companies developing this tech, Eyeris, uses artificial intelligence in conjunction with the cameras and sensors – to calculate what you are likely to do based on what you’ve already done – and then take the appropriate steps to correct for “undesirable behavior.”

The Partie Line is, of course . . . saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

You are to be monitored and catalogued for your own good, in your own car.

. . .

We are to have no say in the matter. We are like cattle given the “choice” of Chute A vs. Chute B – but never the option to leave the corral.

There's more at the link.

This infuriates me.  We can't even switch off many of these intrusive systems because, increasingly, the car's central computer won't allow it to be driven unless all its "safety" systems are operational.  I'm told that even putting a piece of tape over the in-car camera, pointed at the driver, will register as an error with the central computer, which won't let you drive off until the tape is removed.  I hope that's not the case, because if it is, I won't be able to drive anywhere!

I'm determined never to submit to this kind of intrusive monitoring.  I guess I'll just have to buy older cars lacking such technology, and keep them running as long as I can.  Fortunately, I'm at an age where I may be able to do so until I die . . . but younger people today will probably be S.O.L.

I resent, bitterly, the invasions of my privacy that have been growing year by year, allowing me no say in whether or not I'm prepared to permit them.  To the extent possible, I block them.  I'm an old-fashioned guy, who believes in personal privacy and is prepared to invest in it to the extent I can.  Unfortunately, such attitudes appear to be vanishing among modern young people.  They've been raised in an era of corporate and government intrusiveness, to such an extent that they see little or nothing wrong with it.  They even pay for voice-operated and/or "smart" gadgets in their homes, to make their lives more "convenient" - forgetting that those same gadgets can record anything and everything they do, and make it available to marketers and others.  Want a passionate evening with your lover?  If you have one of those gizmos in your bedroom, there will be a record of it - and who knows who may listen to it?  If a divorce results from your behavior, will a lawyer obtain a court order to get a copy of it, and play it in open court to prove infidelity?  What will that do to your reputation?

*Sigh* . . . I feel like a technological and ethical dinosaur.  Oh, well.  Extinction is something we all face, sooner or later.  I hope mine arrives before I become nothing more than a digit in the global, all-encompassing system.  At least I can go out extending a more appropriate digit to all concerned!



Mad Jack said...

That's not the half of it. They are able to control your car to some extent. For instance, if you're leasing your car or have taken out a loan with the car as collateral, and you miss a payment, your car will cease to run and will refuse to start. By that I mean if you're driving on the highway, your car can be made to shut down - what you do when the engine stops is up to you.

Although I haven't done much research on this, I know that the computer controlling your car can be reprogrammed so as to turn off certain features, such as the seat belt chime. Other settings can be adjusted to provide better mileage and acceleration at the cost of pollution control. Your car also has a black box which records what the car has been doing over the past ten minutes or so, and the box can be retrieved and the contents accessed by the police in case you're involved in an accident.

I saw a pickup truck the other day that was licensed as a historical vehicle, meaning that the luxury items were a radio and a heater. I'm very tempted to go that route.

Orvan Taurus said...

Every once in a while I think it might be nice to have a newer vehicle (not in the budget anyway, but..) and then I see something like this and figure maybe the last car I bought can be the last car I ever buy... even if someday I might seem Jack Benny driving his ancient Maxwell. *Mel Blanc 'sound effects'*

DaveS said...

I'm no technical guru, but I can't help but wonder how long it will take someone to figure out how to hack these very same systems. If you can program a computer to track things, you ought to be able to hack it so that it reports erroneous information as well. e.g. you're driving north at 70 mph and have it report that you're travelling south at 35 mph...

Maybe the stuff of fantasy, but the fantasies of the past seem to keep on becoming the realities of today.

Old NFO said...

Nanny state is alive and well... And it's only a matter of time until 'old' cars are outlawed as unsafe, forcing one into a 'new' car. There ARE people who are pretty good at modifying ECUs, just sayin...


I have no objections if people WANT all this carp. But like you, Peter, I don't. And to top it off, car companies are watching new care sales slip because of the prices which are driven, in large part, by all these gadgets they're packing into cars (let alone all the stuff mandated by law like back-up cameras).

Several cars ago I gave up on finding a vehicle with manual crank windows. Sure, the electric ones are useful, but I like the manual version. Gone.

If I ever have the money, I'll join you in finding an "antique" car, getting it fixed up, and driving it. Besides, if I can find a truly pre-electronic anything, I'll have a running car when the EMP attack hits. :D

Tewshooz said...

We have an '88 Ford truck that we no longer license just to use on our property to haul stuff. I'm thinking I should completely refurbish the thing and start using that again. It even has manual windows and a wing window which I always loved. Four on the floor manual tranny. 4WD. We took a lot of trips in that truck. Had an oversized radiator put in it in those days to pull a trailer. Twin gas tanks and still runs good. Mmmmmm

Eric Wilner said...

My current car (2002 Prius) has a fair amount of gadgetry, but none of the spy stuff; I figure I should be able to coax another several years out of it, and maybe I'll get motivated to install a homebrew infotainment system that does what I want, rather than what Toyota thinks I should want. My father has a somewhat newer model, and the factory infotainment system is a user-interface nightmare.
Next vehicle planned (probably this spring) is a pickup truck, most likely an F-150, preferably used; I'd been thinking pre-aluminum, which would also be mostly pre-gadgetry and pre-spyware.
Of course, Google is tracking my phone (with varying accuracy), but I can always turn the phone off when I'm not expecting any calls. Until off-switches are outlawed, and then it's tinfoil-pocket time.

Will said...


I consider electric windows a security measure. Useful to be able to close a window in the opposite door, (and lock it!) when potential trouble approaches. I just wish they moved as fast as the early windows did. That went away due to safety concerns, mostly for children.

The makers moved to electric because they are lighter and more reliable. (constant effort to lighten things due to the push for better fuel mileage)

Bob said...

Eric Wilner:

Your phone is tracking and reporting on you whether you turn it off or not. The only way to prevent that is

Your phone can be interrogated even if "off". Just because the screen is blank does not mean your phone isn't reporting to somebody, somewhere.

A female I know got caught running around because her phone tracked her every movement.... time, date, location, and she never had a clue.

tiredWeasel said...

Sure, you can program the on board computer to turn some "features" off - but I'm pretty sure there will be a law against that or the insurance will no longer cover you.
For example - if you permanently turn off the "start/stop-automatic" in Germany, you're on the hook for tax evasion :D
Because a car get's taxed for it's emissions and in theory this feature reduces them :D

RobC said...

This is why services to disable certain ICU features are so much in demand... these computers will be hacked and made "featureless" to preserve privacy... mark my words.

Bob said...

*imagines a scenario where a cop is parked at his favorite speed trap - - not only does he monitor the speed of your car, but his advanced equipment communicates with that in your car, telling him if you're wearing a seat belt...*

Paul, Dammit! said...

Bob's post is VERY likely.

There's a youtuber I like, 'Travels With Geordie.' who restored an ancient Land Rover pickup as his primary vehicle. I love the truck, and its' simplicity. Might be worth emulating. A 70's muscle car, too.

I am house hunting right now. I came across a 'smart' house that someone had flipped. They generously listed all the 'smart' features. I figured out I would need roughly $22,000 in materials and labor (paying myself 0 for labor and tasks I could handle, like selling a smart oven and buying a new dumb one, but professionals @$50/hr). It made a house that was otherwise worth viewing Not Enough House For the Money.
You know, as much as I might like to program the refrigerator from the comfort of my own bathroom, I would rather that someone else not be able to do so from out at the curb.

leaperman said...


Can you say "Ok Google."

Keith_Indy said...

Leave my red barchetta alone...