Here’s Why Google Maps Doesn’t Have A ‘Scenic Route’ Option

Have you ever wondered why Google‘s (Nasdaq: GOOG) navigation app has no ‘scenic route’ option? 

Kasey Klimes, a former researcher at Google Maps, shed light on the reasons behind the absence of a ‘scenic route’ option in the widely used navigation app, even if it’s one of the top user requests. Klimes explained that the global scale of Google Maps, with over a billion users worldwide, and how this scale influences product development decisions.

The reason, basically, is that it’s a more complex system than just navigation.

The navigation app’s routing algorithm is currently programmed to provide the fastest route from point A to point B. According to Klimes, introducing a ‘scenic route’ feature would require the algorithm to consider variables such as beautiful architecture and street trees, which could inadvertently introduce bias into the system. 

This bias, Klimes argues, could potentially lead to a reinforcing feedback loop that exacerbates what he called “spatial inequality.”

Klimes also noted that diverting foot traffic from low-income streets to high-income streets through a ‘scenic route’ feature could also result in revenue and tax dollars being funneled away from struggling communities and towards wealthier areas.

While Klimes (and Google is also likely to) claims that the current algorithm is objective, some called attention to another potential bias, taking off from Klimes’ note on the result of diverting foot traffic from low-income streets.

Information for this story was found via the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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