The motive behind the Google-General Motors in-car deal
The move comes due to rising customer demand for Google’s in-car solutions. General Motors has been designing its own in-the-car apps for GM vehicle owners, but owners seem more interested in Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay solutions than GM’s own. Working with Google to bring the kind of in-car experience customers want could also help GM develop its apps and attract car owners as well.
“Long story short is we listened to our customers. They told us they wanted to integrate all these ecosystems in a safe way, in a seamless way, embedded in the vehicle,” said General Motors Global Connected Customer Experience Vice President Santiago Chamorro.
Since a number of customers have Google Assistant and Assistant-integrated products (think smart speakers and smart displays) in their homes, having an in-car Google solution would better integrate home and vehicle automation. The more customers use smart solutions at home, the more they come to expect them everywhere.
Mutual data-sharing deal highlights for increased privacy
It’s no secret that Google’s win in all this is not only the next billion users for the Android platform, and existing Android users who start using more Google devices and mobile solutions, but also consumer data. Usage data from the in-car solution will be shared mutually between Google and General Motors to help both improve the infotainment experience.
But it is with this mutual data-sharing deal that privacy is highlighted once more. When one considers the addition of Google Assistant to GM cars, there’s a greater need for privacy to be emphasized to customers. Google Assistant is the top artificial intelligence (AI) in mobile today, but AIs are also guilty of listening in when customers don’t voice-activate them, for example. Customers can mention “Google” once and hear the voice command responding without proper prompting — making customers nervous that everything they say and do is being secretly recorded without their consent.
General Motors says that it intends to protect user data and only use it for specific purposes to improve the in-car experience. This is good, but all that the statement entails is still vague. What about in the case of a GM car driver being accused of murder? Will GM promise not to share the suspect’s driving records, obtained via Google Maps, that might implicate the suspect?
And eventually, it’s possible that Google and General Motors could bring some sort of fingerprint-steering wheel setup to the car, thereby preventing car theft and requiring drivers to identify themselves by way of fingerprint scan or some other biometric authentication such as iris scanning.
What about in the future, with the need to stop drunk driving and drunk driving accidents, if General Motors and Google partner to use iris scanning to determine if a driver is “bloodshot” and thus, drunk? Will the in-car solution be used to privately notify law enforcement that “said driver is trying to drive drunk”?
Technology’s usefulness on the road can be found in its ability to protect drivers and ensure safety. As companies like Google and General Motors continue to partner in the in-car endeavor, information obtained will have no choice but to be put to use for protection and safety, which will involve local, state, and federal law enforcement. Will Google and General Motors be prepared to hand over necessary information for the benefit of society and law enforcement officials?
Thus, while Google and General Motors have specific purposes for the data, law enforcement authorities have specific purposes of their own.