A funny thing happened to me on the Long Island Expressway yesterday. I was driving from my home on Long Island to a meeting in Springfield, MA and got on the Expressway at Exit 36 at about 8:20am in the morning. My Navigation system showed the LIE was full of heavy traffic (orange and red on the map) up to the Clearview Expressway, which runs North South between the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Grand Central Parkway. My oh so clever NAV system advised me to exit the Expressway at Community Drive (Exit 34) and take Northern Blvd to the Bridge. The Exit already had a line of cars looking to get off, but I was in the far left lane and couldn't slide over in time to make the queue.
Next, my NAV voice asked me to get off at Little Neck Parkway (Exit 33), which also had an even longer line of cars backed up in the far right lane. Curiously, the Expressway was clear and moving briskly while the Exit ramp was bumper to bumper. I ignored the NAV and went ahead. At the Cross Island Expressway, which has a double Exit ramp, the cars were backed up a quarter of a mile, yet the Expressway was moving fast.
I looked into the windows of the cars waiting in the Exit queue and noticed they all had NAV systems. Maybe their NAV systems showed the Expressway was full of traffic and urged the drivers to exit and take the same detour over Northern Blvd. I chuckled and drove on at full speed to the Clearview Expressway and made it to the Throgs Neck Bridge with no traffic and wondered how all those data driven drivers were doing snarled in traffic lights on Northern Blvd.
And now I wonder what will happen more broadly when everyone is using the same analytical engines and tools to make the same decisions in their health, financial, and travel lives. Will it lead to overcrowding on exit ramps? Will automated Big Data Navigation produce over-conformist group-think in business? Or will some wild duck contrarians reap huge benefits by ignoring the detours taken by the masses?
What do you think?