Posts filed under “Technology”

A Matter of Time (and Distance)

@TBPInvictus here:


“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” – George Carlin

A quick note on where I think technology might take us in the very near future.

We’re well into the age of electronic toll collection systems (E-ZPass, etc.), the convenience of which is indisputable. These systems provide users with electronic tags – mounted on windshields and associated with specific vehicles – that register their passage through tolls and automatically deduct the appropriate amount from a prepaid account. The downside of this technological advance has been the virtual elimination of the job of “toll collector.” (I tried to scrounge up an employment series for “Collector, Toll,” but it seems BLS doesn’t drill down quite that deep, and “Cashier” is way too broad a category. I will update this post should I find the data.)

One local bridge no longer has any toll collectors whatsoever. Payment is made either via E-ZPass or “Toll by Mail,” a process by which a photo of the vehicle’s license plate is snapped and a bill subsequently mailed to the registered owner. Traffic flows very smoothly and there are rarely delays.

Back to the electronic toll collection system:

The system registers your entry and exit points along with the time of entry and exit; these are always detailed on your monthly statement. So: You enter the thruway at Point A and exit at Point B. Let’s say it takes you one hour to travel the 85 miles from Point A to Point B. You see where this is going? The system is already in place to determine – very easily, in fact – whose average speed exceeded the lawful limit and by how much. A citation could subsequently be issued. The use of electronic toll collection systems as a tool for law enforcement – and deterrent – purposes is simply a matter of time and, well, distance.

As with the now-ubiquitous red-light cameras, no points could be assessed on these violations, as it would be virtually impossible to determine who was behind the wheel.

My guess is that no one would trade off the convenience of E-ZPass for the opportunity to speed with impunity and immediately lose all that “saved” time sitting in a queue waiting to pay the toll.

The benefits here are twofold (in order of importance):

  • Increased highway safety
  • Increased revenue

It’s obvious, of course, that this concept would, in one broad stroke, cover thousands of miles of highways, whereas a stationary trooper sitting roadside with a radar gun has much more limited efficacy.

I am most definitely, most vehemently, against government surveillance and intrusion into our lives. I am, however, for increased highway safety and minimizing the senseless loss of life on our roadways. Secondarily, speeding costs our economy over $40 billion/year (2004 data). There will be some challenges if/when my vision becomes reality. But they will be beaten back and the state, as it usually does, will prevail. Very uncharacteristically, I’ll be okay with that in this case.

Update: Seeing some comments about various ways in which the scheme I laid out can be defeated, and they’re valid. However, let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Sure, there are always work-arounds, and no system is ever flawless. That said, I do think this will ultimately be deployed and will ultimately be effective in achieving its objective.

Category: Technology

Internet Hall of Fame

World Startup Report research on the biggest Internet companies across 50 countries. The insights that will make you look outside Silicon Valley and the US. Things to Know about the World of Internet Companies Internet Hall of Fame: Things to Know about the World of Internet Companies from World Startup Report

Category: Technology, Think Tank, Venture Capital

Will a Robot Take Your Job?

Source: NY Times   Steven Rattner: “in the sweep of history, the human condition barely improved for centuries, until the early days of the industrial revolution, when transformational new technologies (the robots of their day) were introduced. Consider the case of agriculture, after the arrival of tractors, combines and scientific farming methods. A century ago,…Read More

Category: Employment, Technology

LiveWire: Harley-Davidson Electric

Pretty bad ass looking EV bike — clutchless, fast, plug i


More photos after the jump.

Read More

Category: Technology, Weekend

Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways!

Are Solar roadways possible? Are they too ambitious, costly, and technologically unfeasible? Check out the compelling and entertaining video.     If you would like more information, check out the Indigogo project page for information straight from the source. The project has been getting a lot of attention recently and there are recommended articles on…Read More

Category: Energy, Technology, Weekend

Retail in Real-Time

Click to watch the data in real time. Source: Retale

Category: Consumer Spending, Technology

Operating System Overload? Blame the Octothorpe!

Yesterday, announced its new mobile phone, the Fire. Just in case the phones that run on Apple’s IOS or Google’s Android or BlackBerry or Windows don’t do it for you. The phone has some sort of a 3D holographic imaging, for whatever that’s worth. Also, you can take a picture of some product, and…Read More

Category: Technology

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Story of Drones in Pakistan

Click for an animated presentation. Source: Pitch Interactive

Category: Politics, Technology

‘Star Trek’ Tech Aims to Be Google for Matter

Source: Bloomberg

Category: Technology, Video

Most Wired Countries in the World

Relative to last week’s whine about US telecom infrastructure:   Click for full list. Source: Bloomberg Visual Data We’re # 13! We’re # 13!

Category: Digital Media, Technology