Random Rants, by Thomas Andrew Olson

Friday, August 03, 2007

Coming to a showroom near you, the new Nissan "Orwell"

Yes, indeed, folks. Without being asked by anyone, Japanese automaker Nissan is taking it upon themselves to "solve" the DUI problem by making a car with multiple biometric technology interlocks, the sole purpose of which being to save the driver from him/herself.

It monitors your breath, your body odor, facial expressions, eye movements, the sweat on your palms, and probably your brain wave pattern. If the car detects any hint of "wrongdoing" (in the minds of the engineers), and the vehicle shuts itself down - or fails to start to begin with. The only feature it doesn't tout is electronically ratting you out to the local authorities for attempting to drive the vehicle or bypass its "protective" functions. But expect that as well.

So you've had a beer, and now your car refuses to start, even though you are well below the legal limit in your community. Nevertheless, a cop car comes round in response to the car's digital "cry for help" - you get arrested anyway. Will the car now be called to testify at the trial??

A vehicle such as this crosses the line between you owning your car and the car owning you - and by extension the State owning both. I'm sure the safety and health nazis on both sides of the pacific are salivating to mandate these features in all new vehicles sold. The term "slippery slope" doesn't begin to describe this.

I'm sure this will sell well in government-worshipping countries like Japan or most of Europe, but expect massive resistance in Red states, and a tepid response even in Blues.

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