How To Upgrade Your Roadside Advertisements.

This is a bad idea.

Travelling along Lang'ata Road one morning, I was struck by how many roadside signs were there - one screen, tens of billboards, some trailers and those small billboards they stick on light poles. This is not considering business signage of businesses located on the side of the road. Granted, I come from upcountry, so maybe I am looking at the lower end of the spectrum. I am aware of the fracas in Westlands and the absolute warzone that is Tokyo, but that is none of my business. One billboard by the road is one too many already, but that is beyond the point.

Lang'ata Road is subject to jams every morning heading to town, and most evenings coming back. That is even with Covid-19 restrictions and the recent increase in fuel prices. You can confirm for yourself on Google Maps every day between 7 and 9 in the morning EAT. This is probably why all those billboards have been installed there in the first place.

Google, Facebook, your government and their friends, relatives and associates do a lot of spying on our phones and know our entire lives: the kind of shirts we like to wear, the kind of pornography we have in our galleries, our conversations, our banks and MPESA purchases and details, our social media and browsing habits and more. In fact, I am quite sure if you ask coplo Kiprop or Kipruto in the DCI or NIS, they might be able to tell you whose child is it you are currently exchanging bodily fluids with.

Using current advances in computing such as "artificial intelligence" and "machine learning", we can replace all these static media like billboards with giant screens which we then fill with advertisements targeted at all those captives sitting on Lang'ata Road and elsewhere with smartphones. For instance, advertisements for lingerie, flowers, condoms, sherehe paraphernalia, fast food joints, alcohols, sherehe destinations, back to school deals, loans... everything.

This idea has obvious ethical issues1, but the advertising industry and many others are ethical issues in themselves.


These ethical issues include loss of privacy which means people air your dirty laundry in public and also use it to make money from you.