Recently in the news cycle the talk of Apple launching a self-driving car has been reignited. The name of the new initiative is “Project Titan” and seeks to provide a tesla like experience with Apple’s sense of design. This news is huge for electric car giant Tesla, because Apple is a company with enough resources and design chops to recreate the Tesla experience. The premium electric car space has not seen a challenger to Tesla’s hype train that has struck gold, but that might change soon; However, the biggest change coming with Apple’s new car is much bigger than just competition for Tesla.
Apple’s new electric car big could be the start of a melding of car companies and big tech. The future cars could have built in special ports or spaces to connect your iPhone to the internal computer. Alternatively, the newest cars form luxury manufacturers could just be branded with tech company logos like their phone and accessory counterparts. The car space and tech space merging could be a big deal because the technology in your car could effectively become a second and equally capable smartphone instead of being just an entertainment screen. The possible branding and unique feature deals might shape the landscape of luxury cars permanently because brands might have to choose which tech giant, they want to exclusively work with. Choosing your car in the future might factor in whether you have an android or iPhone device.
By turning cars into another cellular phone style smart device our online presence and accounts might impact all our real-world devices in a connected future. Getting banned from Google or Apple services could ban you from activating a feature that your car has installed. Tech giants could make parental systems that police car use based on what digital account is on the smartphone present in the car. Apple pay could possibly sync into every single device you own from the car to the smallest smart speaker in the house which would make physical money useless to some people. Everything we own is now becoming “smart” and that could generate negative and positive externalities.
The good side of globally interconnected tech has some merits. Smart cars in the future could be located and turn off from a smartphone, so thieves would have a difficult time claiming a car connected to the net. Losing your key could disappear completely as an online account would be the only thing required to verify your identity and start the car. Cars could be remotely prepped for the daily commute in colder places by preemptively defrosting the windows and starting the heater. Software features could prevent dangerous driving situations by preventing usage of the car or auto piloting the car to a safe location when someone falls asleep.
The negative externalities of an interconnected future could change society permanently in an insidious way. Online accounts could become more important than government id cards because the interconnected web of devices you own could be remotely deactivated permanently if you make the tech companies angry. Hackers could easily take control of your car and could create hostage software that extorts money out of smart car users by utilizing life-threatening steering override commands. Governments could utilize smart car info gathering sensors to create the most intimate mass surveillance system ever seen. The interconnected car has the possibility to become the greatest information gathering device ever made.
The ambitious future for smarter cars is exciting, but people should think about the real price of smart technology which is privacy. Once everything you own is part of a network and has cameras all over it, privacy will finally die for average citizens. Tech giants have the possibility to collect even more data than before with this technological change in cars. Before you get too excited about a smart car filled future, it is important to always remember that smart tech is owned by the companies that control the software and not you.