MindBullets 20 Years


Should your own things be able to rat you out?

Gone are the days when a highway surveillance system or patrol cop were the only triggers for your traffic infringements. Welcome to a brand-new world.

Gregor Kashniv from Moscow had a few too many vodkas last Friday and when he eventually surfaced late Saturday afternoon, he found himself in a cold, dark jail cell in the inner city. He vaguely recalled being arrested within 300 metres of his home. Apparently he protested heavily, saying that he was definitely under the limit and that he has no prior criminal record. The former is debatable; the latter is true.

Two months ago, Kashniv bought himself a new smart, connected car, the Beta Red. The vehicle boasts some autonomous features, but according to the law a human driver is still considered the only ‘driver’. The car has a nifty capability: sensor technology in the steering wheel that alerts you if it detects a certain amount of alcohol through the skin.

Two explanations for Kashniv’s arrest are doing the rounds; either the car was hacked and the location data sent to the authorities or the car’s software made a call to the cops. The manufacturer has apologized profusely, saying they were testing such an add-in but decided to exclude it in the end. They are blaming employees who were laid off and will be investigating the matter. As to the hacking theory – anything with a signal these days is vulnerable, so who knows.

This raises big questions about digital ethics. Is an arrest still valid if it is due to a hacking attempt – if the traffic police wouldn’t have known about it otherwise? Or is that just the same as whistleblowing? Surely your right to remain silent includes muzzling your car? Better put your Digital Lawyer on speed dial!

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.