[Mock Image, Not Real]
In an effort to make their GPS give the user more routing options, Microsoft has obtained a patent for their GPS system (available for all Windows phones soon) which is being called the “avoid ghetto” feature by news reports.
Created for mobile phones, the technology uses the latest crime statistics and weather data and includes them when calculating a route. The patent, written in a combination of tech-speak and legalese, was awarded to Microsoft earlier this week.
What is unclear, at least from my reading of the patent–which isn’t written by anything resembling a human hand or mind–is what kind of crime statistics the GPS might choose to use.
It’s one thing to avoid areas where there might have occurred physical assaults and gunfire. It’s another to avoid, say, places where burglaries are popular, as one suspects quite a few allegedly nice areas are subject to burglars’ desires.
With some areas, past performance isn’t a guarantee of future results. What if someone using a route from this system does get mugged, shot, assaulted, or robbed? Would they feel entitled to sue Microsoft because the route was supposed to be “ghetto-free”?
The patent talks about the quality of the information. But quality is a subjective notion, so one wonders just whose assessment of quality will be deemed significant.