Driving in Fog – Regulation, Green Ooze and Social Malfunction

Written by on July 23, 2013 in BillingViews, Opinion with 0 Comments

In light of recent excitements about connected cars from futurists who see formations of driverless cars criss-crossing the city without pausing – and at exactly the right boring speed, I thought I would re-publish an article from a couple of months ago. It also mentions possible flaws in Google Glass, before Google Glass had any possible flaws.


The biggest issue right now is the balancing act between the rush of technology and consumers’ safety and privacy. Every week there are press releases that guess the mobile advertising market will be worth a zillion dollars by next Tuesday afternoon. Every month analysts tell us with authority that the mobile payments market is bigger than the Big Bang on full volume. If you search some of the biotechnology sites, you can read that by next Wednesday we will be able to back up the whole of the internet into a small cup of green ooze. And this will be accessible by anyone or anything from anywhere from anything in the blink of an eye – or much faster.



And yet, when you read this stuff, you get that niggly, not quite right feeling – a feeling as if someone is screaming in a soundproofed room. It is the sound of common sense trying to be heard.

If you read the very excellent JWT Intelligence reports you are in danger of getting caught up in this whirlwind of excitement. They went to MWC in Barcelona and became quite unnecessary about M2M – amongst other things. M2M is clearly unstoppable and will clearly be huge but it is a classic common sense vs technology, hope vs experience event.

The car will become an “iPhone on Wheels” according to one Mr Shegeki Tomoyama of Toyota in a promotional video. Meanwhile Steve Girsky of GM “envisions a day when your car becomes just another device in your mobile plan.” Excellent, wow! Dashboard commerce is just a honk away. Indicate right to pay with Visa, change gear to put the purchase on your phone bill. The kids want ice cream, I’ll just Dashboard it. And with another happy honk, we’re paid and good to go. Now that the kids are happy spilling ice cream down the self-cleaning fake leatherette furnishings, I’ll play with the indicator and download Total Annihilation 15 for them. Then I can check my emails in peace while my wife shops at Sears.

And then, just when Mr Girsky’s envisionmental vision thing is getting so exciting that I might have to ask the Dashboard where the nearest conveniences are, common sense manages to push the door open a fraction and scream “Are you nuts – is that really safe?” And you kind of come up short. And think – hmm. And realize – er, no.

Driver distraction is already a massive issue with phoning while driving, texting while driving, eating while driving. Imagine having a shopping mall, social network, cinema complex and office in there with you – not to mention the kids, the ice cream and increasingly grumpy self cleaning fake leatherette furnishings.

While I am on the subject of new technology, call me old (thank you Ed, I didn’t actually mean it) but what is this Google Glasses malarkey all about? Imagine talking to someone and you get this feeling that they are not listening to a word you say. I get this feeling a lot when talking to people and they tell me it is because I am boring. But imagine they are not listening and are actually reading an email or watching a video clip while not listening to you. That is just rude. Society and social interaction will suffer. And it will happen. Mind you, by the time the Glasses become widespread, it might be the way we interact with each other all the time – another example of the physical converging with the digital – and becoming pointless in the process.

It is an awful prospect. In fact, the only silver lining will be when their Google Glasses crash (not that they would of course). “I’m blind, I’m blind, is that you Henry?” and from the darkness their glasses tell them to bash themselves repeatedly on the head to reboot. Actually, now I am warming to the idea.

But, please, instead of too much regulation (too slowly) can we let common sense in on the discussion now?

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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