Jezen Thomas

Jezen Thomas

CTO & Co-Founder at Supercede. Haskell programmer. Writing about business and software engineering. Working from anywhere.

Please Don't Kill Me, Google Maps

Google Maps has a clever feature where it will dynamically reconsider your route if it thinks it can save you time.

In general, this makes sense. In most cases people would prefer to save time, and spending less time running an internal combustion engine is better for the environment. I get it.

What bothers me about this feature is that you can’t turn it off.

I can only assume a product manager in California has decided that Google knows best, so why would anyone want to turn this feature off?

Last year I had to drive from Odessa, Ukraine, to Chișinău airport in Moldova. Before setting off, I input my destination, and Google Maps dutifully presented me with a choice of two routes.

I chose the route I found most sensible, even though it’s slightly longer.

While driving, the route guidance drew my attention away from what was otherwise a rather comfortable journey through Ukrainian vineyards. Google Maps directed me to leave the road to the Palanca border crossing — a road I was already somewhat familiar with.

Google Maps had identified a faster route. Google Maps decided to switch me to the faster route, unless I promptly cancelled the switch by tapping a button on my telephone within a window of only a few seconds. This prompt is easy to miss, especially if — as is quite common when operating a motor vehicle — you are already using your eyes to see where you are going.

The problem with the optimised route Google Maps wanted to guide me towards is that it runs through Transnistria.

Transnistria is not a real country. It’s actually a sliver of Moldova’s territory which has been militarily occupied by the terrorist state of russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Google Maps already provides the user with the option to avoid motorways and tolls. Perhaps Google Maps should also allow the user to avoid wars?

I chose my route specifically because I don’t want to drive towards a barrage of machine gun fire. I would prefer for my vehicle to have the same number of holes in it as it did when it came off the production line, and I would indeed prefer for my internal organs to remain internal.

I understand some Californian environmentalists will be distressed that my chosen route displaces a few more hydrocarbons, but ideally — if at all possible — I don’t want to die in a fucking war.

Is that so much to ask, Google?