Yesterday's Science Fiction…


In my Reason cover story on John Gilmore and his fight for anonymity while traveling, back in our Aug./Sept. 2003 issue, I posited the following fantasy of a future innovation in a world of endless tracking and surveillance in which only the guilty would have reason to fear:

Your car is…equipped with a transponder-triggered traffic-law enforcement device that spits a speeding ticket out of your dash every time you exceed the speed limit for more than a minute, the sum precisely calibrated to the level of your crime. (You got a problem with that? Only the guilty have reason to fear!)

Now, this news story from the Sydney Morning Herald, on the prototype Toyota Sportiva Coupe:

Disputing a speed-camera fine could soon be a thing of the past. Today, Toyota will unveil a car that takes away the guesswork when it comes to identifying the leadfoot in the family.

Finding the rightful recipient of the ticket could be as simple as sliding in a mobile phone-style SIM-card instead of a key. The card would contain details of the driver's licence and address.

Wireless technology would allow the car to communicate with the speed camera, and the fine could be deducted from the driver's credit card before he or she even made it home.

Even easier than my clunky, old-fashioned notion of a paper ticket coming from the dash. Of course that wouldn't be necessary–how archaic my thinking was.