- when you write a Gmail, Google scans it to tailor the advertising you see; Facebook does the same with your status updates;
- if you check out a news site, rest assured that before the page has even loaded, your personal data's already been sliced, diced & auctioned off to the highest bidder;
- personal data also gets used to charge people different prices for things;
- search results are altered based on political interests ascertained from personal data;
- by secretly canvassing millions of Yahoo webcam chats around the world, the British government were able to archive still images, whether or not the participants were suspected of wrongdoing; in fact, it's commonplace for governments to ransack your personal data in their attempts to identify potential crooks and terrorists.
"Not long ago, we would have bought services as important to us as mail and news," writes Julia Angwin, a senior reporter at ProPublica and the author of Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. "Now, however, we get all those services for free — and we pay with our personal data, which is spliced and diced and bought and sold." As the saying goes, if you aren't paying for a product, you are the product. "In our data-saturated economy," continues Angwin, "privacy is becoming a luxury good."
And many just aren't down with that, the rich particularly. "The single most important luxury goods of the 21st century," opines Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz, "are quality time and private space."
With privacy at such a premium, Daimler's futuristic new self-driving Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan F 015 makes sense. Unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it's a sleek spaceship on four wheels. Both the driver's seat and front passenger seat can pivot and allow the vehicle to become a private retreat. "The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space," continues Zetsche. "Anyone who focuses solely on the technology has not yet grasped how autonomous driving will change our society."
(images via source)
- If car accidents become rare, vehicles will no longer need to be constructed with heavier-gauge steel and multiple airbags;
- If a car can park miles away and zip in to pick you up from work, there's no more need for land-hogging parking spaces;
- If you can "drive" from Boston to Cleveland while you slumber, why fly?
- Indeed, if you can be transported on demand, who needs to actually own a car?
Fewer cars on the road, as well as fewer parking spaces and lots, plus more car-sharing fundamentally changes the way we will see the divide between city and suburb. To say nothing of how we view travel and transport itself. With their self-driving cars, Google's goal is to increase car usage from the current (and abysmally wasteful) 5-10% to 75% - or more. According to the Boston-based Lux Research, self-driving cars are expected to create lucrative opportunities for automakers and technology developers alike by 2030 worth at least $87 billion. "These vehicles are coming – and fast," advises Investopedia. "Their full adoption will take decades, but their convenience, cost, safety and other factors will make them ubiquitous and indispensable."
- Lesley Scott