Microsoft Corporation is taking heat for a patent it filed for what is being called the “Avoid Ghetto” GPS App. The app esentially links up with your GPS or Smartphone and when you are approaching an area that, based on crime statistics or racial make-up, is deemed undesirable it gives you directions around it.
Sarah E. Chinn, author of Technology and the Logic of American Racism, told AOL Autos, said of the fine line a technology walks between useful and racist.
“It’s pretty appalling. Of course, an application like this defines crime pretty narrowly, since all crimes happen in all kinds of neighborhoods. I can’t imagine that there aren’t perpetrators of domestic violence, petty and insignificant drug possession, fraud, theft, and rape in every area.”
Chin made an interesting point where she stressed that even though it may give people less of a nervous feeling to not get lost and wind up in a really bad neighborhood, the vast majority of crime is committed by people that know each other so this app would not really improve driver safety.
She did state an interesting idea though that flips the coin a bit:
“A more useful app would be for young black men to be able to map blocks with the highest risks of their being pulled over or stopped on the street by police. That phenomenon affects many more people than the rare occurrences of random violence against motorists driving through ‘bad’ neighborhoods.”
How do you feel about the Microsoft “Avoid Ghetto” App?