Commercial Interests Sieze Control of GPS

Beaverton, OR: Local resident Julie Pike was driving home from work this past Friday, when she realized she had just parked her car in the parking lot of a local Big Buy store. Not only had she just parked in front of Big Buy, but she was in the very act of leaving her car with the clear intention of buying a top-of-the-line TV/microwave combo.

“What,” she asked herself in surprise, “am I doing here?”

When she left her office at the end of the day, she had been planning to go directly home, eat a romantic dinner with her husband, and then put in a few hours digging up a new garden bed in her front yard. And now, seemingly without forethought, she found herself somewhere else, about to purchase a very expensive piece of electronics.

After a few minutes of unmixed confusion and perturbation, Julie happened to glance at her GPS unit. This GPS, she now saw, displayed directions to Big Buy, along with an image of the exact item she had been about to buy. Her first action, foolishly, was to call the manufacturer of the GPS unit. After waiting on hold for the better part of an hour, she turned to the internet for solutions. After several minutes of searching (during which she viewed no less than seventeen images of the TV/microwave), Julie discovered that the latest software update allowed her GPS to be ‘enhanced’ by marketers, as she had, apparently, just experienced. Julie, of course, then immediately bought the TV/microwave, after which she went home to dinner, making a few other stops on the way.

This, of course, raises a serious concern about self-driving cars: How long will it take marketing departments to figure out how to make our cars drive us where they want us to go and then refuse to leave until we have spent a suitable amount of money? Or worse, how long until our cars just go shopping without us?

“TomTom Go 500,” by Darren Meacher. CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Altered.

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