2010/08/03

Kant, Morality, Traffic and Big Brother


I have spent seven years (more like 45 man-years if you count the whole team) developing technology for anonymous metering of road use so that governments can rescue our failing surface transport systems by replacing the fuel tax with road-pricing that is a lot more private than the current tolling technologies such as E-ZPass or SunPass.

My started a company to do that because I am a privacy freak and knowing that we need to move to pay-by-road-use instead pay-by-fuel-tax or pay-by-property-tax, I wished to have nothing to do with being ‘tracked’. I also knew that privacy would become one of the barriers to solving the “wicked problem” of congestion. There are several other reasons for our ‘acceptance-by-design work’, but two ideas are enough for one blog.

Now it turns out that my company’s work is not only good for transportation funding, demand management, reducing emissions, and your privacy, but now it seems it is also good for your moral character.

Emrys Westacott, Professor of Philosophy at Alfred University, asks Does Surveillance Make Us Morally Better. Turns out surveillance may be better for society in some cases (such as traffic surveillance for speeding or drunk driving), but it is not necessarily good for your personal moral development, such as a parent strapping a webcam onto the cookie jar.

I’m sure he’d come down on the side of absolutely privacy of road use. Read his article, and see why. Makes those seven long years of hard work worthwhile…

1 comment:

Bill said...

Agree very much with your main point about privacy- as does, it seems, most of the public. As you have also pointed out, this is an extremely important aspect of road pricing to consider when choosing how to implement in order to avoid public opposition on that basis alone.