In my last post, I wrote about how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is concerned about the possibility of terrorists hacking into the computer systems of our automobiles. You’d think then, wouldn’t you, that our governments wouldn’t go out of their ways to add even more computerized stuff to our vehicles.
Well, you’d be wrong. South Carolina is trying out a digital license plate that works with “electronic paper” the same way an Amazon Kindle does, only without the shopping feature. It will enable the state to remotely replace the numbers on the plate with flashing messages such as “SUSPENDED,” “STOLEN” or “OLD PERSON DRIVING.”
Just kidding about the last one, of course. You don’t need a high-tech plate to know the person in the 1999 Ford Crown Victoria doing 30 on a 55mph road is an old person. But the question is, Does anybody really think a digital license plate is a good idea?
Let’s see…a person at the Department of Motor Vehicles can sit at a computer, access my license plate, and send it a message. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters, you know that as soon as these things hit the road, people are going to be hacking into them. Why? Because it’s there. Never mind about terrorists; your license plate will become the electronic equivalent of the Post-it Notes kids used to stick on Seth Goldberg’s back in fourth grade, except instead of “kick me” it will say something like “My other car is even worse than this one.”
Then the hackers will get more sophisticated. Viral ad agencies will hijack your digital license plates and run ads on them so that, while driving to grandma’s house, you’ll unknowingly be promoting porn4u.com.
The next stage of society’s decline will be digital vanity plates. The idiots who pay extra now just to have their plates say things like “I H8 B BER” or “2TH DOC” will still pay extra, only the new plates will be able to show their pictures. Except it won’t be their actual picture; it will be the same Photoshopped image the motorist uses on dating sites. You’ll think you’re driving behind Julianne Hough, so you’ll speed up to pass on the left and you’ll look at the driver and she’ll look more like Julian Lennon than Julianne Hough and meanwhile you’ll realize you’re on a one-line road and the semi coming at you has an electronic license plate, too, and it currently says, “You, there, in the Camry. You’re so dead.”
There is no doubt in my mind that this thing will turn America’s highways into demolition derbies. And that’s before the person at the DMV has even sent out a message, because she’s still typing:
And then there’s the worst part of this whole thing: what will happen to all the unemployed prisoners?
Why do people (and governments) think that just putting “digital,” “electronic,” or “wireless” before anything makes it better? That is definitely not true. The only word that can do that is “bacon.”
See you soon.