This doesn’t seem dystopian at all.
Automakers have been obsessed with making your vehicle a rolling smartphone for quite some time now. In the latest example of technology run amok, Mercedes-Benz has proudly announced drivers will be able to pay for certain items using a fingerprint sensor in their car. What could possibly go wrong with that?
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For now, this program is only being deployed in Germany, a county that so often serves as a test bed for authoritarian experiments such as Ford limiting vehicles to the speed limit remotely. While using one’s fingerprint to buy digital services in a car might not seem like as big of a deal, Mercedes says it wants to expand the program for gas payments and other services.
This technology is made possible with Visa’s Delegated Authentication and Visa Cloud Token Framework. In other words, Visa really wants people using biometrics to make payments instead of a plastic card. Why would that be? And does this mean thieves will try stealing your fingerprint, your whole hand, or you if they want to clean you out?
Mercedes is playing this development off as the ultimate in convenience. That’s supposed to be the motive behind dreams of a cashless society, but anything which centralizes control so much should be viewed with at least a measure of suspicion. We’ll see if the automaker tries bringing this feature to North America.
In his now-classic novel, Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton poses that many scientists don’t ask if a thing should be done, taking their ability to do that thing as a sign that it’s morally right. This might equals right mentality most definitely is on full display in the auto industry today where automakers don’t ask if certain technologies should be used in cars or how it ought to be done but instead are fascinated with the fact they can use such things.
Image via Mercedes-Benz