Those who have repeatedly been failing their driving test or who do not enjoy driving have a good reason to rejoice: automakers are working on producing driverless cars; that is, the cars in which driver’s seat will be empty and that will move on their own. With such cars, you will need neither to memorize road signs nor watch other cars while you are on the road. Fully autonomous, the driverless car will bring you to your destination by the safest route, while you will be relaxing in a passenger seat enjoying the scenery or reading a book, or browsing the American library of Netflix with the help of your VPN.
This is not all. Your self-driving car will also remind you of your working schedule, ensuring that you do not forget about your forthcoming meeting with your partners at 11.00 am and will prompt you to make a stop at a nearby coffee shop where you can grab your breakfast. Or if it is your food shopping day, your car will help you write a list of goods you need to buy in a store, thoughtfully adding to it some biscuits that you happened to like at your friend’s house party last week and wanted to purchase ever since. Imagine to have the car that not only drives you around but that also fulfills the role of a clever secretary mindful of your timetable, appointments, and even your food preferences.
Now, such attentiveness and care emanating from the car comes at a price. To be that helpful and informed about your habits, the car will need to gather a lot of personal data about you. It will literary need to scrutinize information mentioned in your emails, listen to your phone conversations, read your messages while you are writing them, and keep tabs on all advertisement blurbs that you happened to like while you are on the road. In addition to culling information about you, the autonomous car will need to learn about others with equal diligence: it is going to give you advice and suggestions about your directions, locations, itineraries, and shopping choices. The car will be making decisions for you because it will know how to satisfy your wishes most efficiently and will certainly think much quicker than you do. It will contain information about routes, gas stations, laundries, restaurants, and people around you, and as soon as you verbalize a wish, it will point out the best way to fulfill it. Sometimes the car will be so considerate that it will volunteer a solution even before you become aware of a problem. With a calendar programmed in its system, it will be able, for example, to remind you of your colleague’s anniversary. Even before thought about your colleague springs to mind, your car will courteously suggest in what shop you can buy balloons and flowers to wish her happiness for more years to come.
If you are taken aback by how much data Google and Facebook have on you, understand that the self-driving car will have even tighter and even more absolute supervision over you. It will know down to the smallest detail where you have been, what apps you have used, what videos you have watched on YouTube, what events you have attended or what you only plan to attend, what workout routine you followed, and what information you have prudently deleted. Your self-driving car will store all the photos you have ever taken and every email you have shot to your correspondents. It will preserve every image you have saved, every location you have clicked on, and every article you have ever read. Worse, your car will have no intention to keep this gathered information under wraps or keep mum about your whereabouts. As it often happens now with personal data culled by Google and Facebook, all information your self-driving car will possess will be sold to the third party or to whoever is curious to know about your personality and lifestyle.
The first on the list of these busybodies will be law enforcement organizations. Just as recently the FBI tried to force Apple into unlocking an iPhone, it might compel automakers to decrypt the data on your car to determine where you have gone or to what place you will go next. Do not ever expect to get away with the most insignificant misdeed in your autonomous car. It will turn you into police before you even start entertaining a thought of being on the run. The amount of the personal information your car will possess about you will also make you vulnerable to hackers. If your car retains the knowledge of your location at all times, the hackers can easily learn when you are away from your house and break into it. Or they can use your credit card information which your self-driving car will also remember and go on a shopping spree while you are working. With your car, you will, in short, become an open book available to everyone to read.
Once autonomous cars appear on the market, you may kiss good-bye to your privacy and independence. Driven in this car, you will forget how to make informed decisions, because it will often decide for you, manipulating you into choosing those companies and places which paid to appear at the top of an advertising list. You will also constantly feel invaded and watched since everything you will do in that car will be known to other people. If such exposure makes you cringe, perhaps you should better stick to an old car that does not drive itself but that does not spy and tell on you either.