Unexpectedly Intriguing!
April 13, 2017

Self driving cars are getting a lot of attention these days, but are they really solving the kind of problems that drivers care most about?

Consider the following commercial that proposes the kind of solution hat many drivers would love to have today, but where we're happy to report that the technology behind today's autonomous vehicles fortunately isn't anywhere close to providing. The first features a science fiction solution to the problem of how to deal with that slower moving vehicle in front of you.

Being able to take control of the slower-moving vehicle in front of you seems like a cool thing, right? But since the car being moved over to the slow lane is clearly the one with the self-driving capability, if that's your car, how would you feel about having control of your vehicle taken from you without your permission and manipulated by other drivers on the highway? Or for that matter, by teenage hackers hanging out in their basement lair?

Or how about by cyberintelligence agents employed by a national government or a terrorist organization? That's something that has been alleged to have already happened.

In 2010, Professor Tadayoshi Kohno of the University of Washington and Professor Stefan Savage of the University of California, San Diego published a paper entitled “Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile” which outlined the possibility that cars could be hacked. They pointed out that, once hacked, cars could be remotely controlled to produce sudden braking, brake failure or sudden acceleration. Later, at the Def Con conference in August, 2013, well-known hacker and security engineer for Twitter, Charlie Miller, demonstrated how a car’s steering could also be remotely controlled and that it wouldn’t take that much know-how. That led to some to conclude that there may have been a connection between car hacking and the death of journalist Michael Hastings two months earlier.

Michael Hastings was an award winning, though controversial, journalist. It was he who exposed the negative attitudes of the military, and especially General Stanley McChrystal, towards government officials. Hastings became more interested in government surveillance and his last story was called, “Why Democrats Love to Spy On Americans”. Just before his death, he told friends he thought he was being investigated by the FBI and worried that his car was being tampered with. At the time, he was preparing an article on CIA director John Brennan. He claimed to friends that he was working on a big story. But before this story could appear, he died in a fiery car crash.

The subsequent investigation into Hastings' death in the 2013 crash still poses more questions than have been provided definitive answers. Wikileaks' release of documents related to the CIA's cyber intelligence operations earlier this year has rekindled interest in the case, where the potential capability of hackers to seize control of modern automobiles is feeding both fears among conspiracy theorists and more importantly, ethical concerns based on the hypothetical potential of that situation among more serious people.

We think that the latter, along with the risk of exposure to the liability for having knowingly producing vehicles capable of being hacked in this fashion, will influence the development of the coding and technology of self-driving vehicles to ensure that the potential likelihood for their being taken over by people with hostile intentions lies somewhere between minimal and non-existent.

If we have learned anything from decades of science fiction, it is that modern engineering is as much about ethics as it is about producing the wonders of tomorrow. The challenge of developing self-driving cars is providing the latest proof of that contention.

Labels: ,

About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

Recent Posts

Stock Charts and News

Most Popular Posts
Quick Index

Site Data

This site is primarily powered by:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

CSS Validation

Valid CSS!

RSS Site Feed

AddThis Feed Button


The tools on this site are built using JavaScript. If you would like to learn more, one of the best free resources on the web is available at W3Schools.com.

Other Cool Resources

Blog Roll

Market Links

Useful Election Data
Charities We Support
Shopping Guides
Recommended Reading
Recently Shopped

Seeking Alpha Certified

Legal Disclaimer

Materials on this website are published by Political Calculations to provide visitors with free information and insights regarding the incentives created by the laws and policies described. However, this website is not designed for the purpose of providing legal, medical or financial advice to individuals. Visitors should not rely upon information on this website as a substitute for personal legal, medical or financial advice. While we make every effort to provide accurate website information, laws can change and inaccuracies happen despite our best efforts. If you have an individual problem, you should seek advice from a licensed professional in your state, i.e., by a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case.