Czyli kiedy inteligencja człowieka obraca się przeciwko niemu.

Pomyślałem, że co mi szkodzi i szarpnąłem się na założenie tego wątku. Może zainicjuję dyskusję na temat elektronicznych systemów pokładowych montowanych w samochodach, które w cieniu huraoptymizmu mogą okazać się kijem o dwóch końcach. Dla lepszego zobrazowania co mam na myśli przytoczę te dwa interesujące artykuły.

Who’s Driving?

Its 2012 and you’ve just bought yourself the latest and sportiest version of a “whatevermobile” and you can’t wait to show it to your executive buddies and trophy girl friend.

It has the latest stability control and an LCD instrument cluster that is completely customizable. There is the very latest GPS that makes last year’s version seem like a paper road atlas. Roaming WiFi ensures that you can stay in touch with the ever present demands of your profession and provide you the ability to delegate anything but the most choice work assignments.

This car will ensure that you don’t fall asleep, tailgate, hit a pedestrian, or miss a turn, even at night in the rain. No matter how aggressively you apply power it will always get you around the most difficult corner and still keep the cabin stable on the chassis. It is a dream come true for you.

At least until today. At least until now. Something has dramatically changed. It is as if the car has a mind of its own. You are just trying to figure things out when all the door locks cycle through and lock themselves. Then your instrument panel lights up with a message. You’ve been car-jacked. The car is being controlled – but not by you. A jab on the brake pedal feels like it should but nothing happens. The message on the dashboard tells you that you have a bomb on board and that you must transfer funds from your financial accounts via WiFi if you want it disarmed.

There is nothing you can do but obey the demands. Your accounts are wiped out and you are locked for eight hours in the car. By the time the hackers have released you it is too late to apprehend or even trace them.

Does this sound like an implausible movie script? Today’s cars have become far more sophisticated and complex than you can imagine. Many of these “improvements” are mandated by government regulations and along with all this sophistication come vulnerability.

Back in 2007 the chief security engineer for Inverse Path Ltd. worked with the company’s hardware hacker to break in to an automotive satellite navigation system. They used off the shelf equipment to transmit code number alerts over Radio Data System (RDS), a European standard used in North America that allows FM radio stations to provide traffic information and identify the radio station to the listener. The RDS system isn’t encrypted nor is it authenticated.

In November of 2009 researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California were able to hack into a moving car and change its speed and turn off its brakes using an application called CarShark. The researcher driving the subject car described the unsettling feeling of having complete loss of control. He got full resistance from the brake pedal, but nothing happened. The setup allowed the hackers to remotely turn lights off and on selectively, operate windshield wipers, honk the horn, pop the trunk, rev the engine, disable specific cylinders, engage individual brakes, or completely shut down the vehicle while it was in motion.

This past March, Omar Ramos-Lopez, a twenty-year-old disgruntled former employee of Texas Auto Center in Austin remotely disabled over 100 cars owned by customers by cyber-jacking the Pay Technology black boxes that the dealer installed in its high-risk customer’s vehicles.

A lot of amazing features exist in our cars and more are being piled on with every model change, just be aware that so far little or nothing has been done to secure those features from attackers.

Jim's Garage
Autonomous Driving–who’s to blame?

The year is 2020 and I am driving east in Nevada heading for a meeting I am hosting in the morning. Well, I’m not really driving. Instead my car it doing the chore. I’m tired and have had a couple of drinks so I switch it into autonomous mode and catch some sleep. Its going to be a long day tomorrow and I need to be fresh.

This is the perfect place for autonomous driving. It is “America’s Loneliest Highway” with almost no traffic and straight sections that go on for miles broken by short segments of hilly curves.

Years ago I watched some students prepare an autonomous driving car for a competition sponsored by DARPA. Their entry was based on a Lotus Elise and sported all manner of radar and infrared scanners feeding a specially programmed computer that would allow it to navigate a circuit of cones. It wasn’t very fast, but it was early in the game.

The effort was a good one, but not good enough to win the coveted DARPA prize.

Many years have passed and computers have increase a hundred fold in power and sensors have become far more discrete and sensitive. To the point that autonomous cars are sold to the public. While the price is high the benefits espoused by the proponents of the technology are safety, security, and economy. In my condition it appears to be the perfect solution.

I am jarred awake by the car proving its worth in a panic stop to avoid hitting an animal that jumped out and crossed the road. While I would rather have been able to sleep I am grateful that I wasn’t the one that had to react as I doubt that in my present condition I could have done as well as the car’s computer.

Not long after that I nod off again secure in the knowledge that this will be a chance for me to get some much needed rest and be ready to check in to my hotel later in the evening.

I am having a very bad dream full of loud noises and flashing lights. But its not a dream. I am hanging upside down in the car and the air bags have deployed leaving me with a pronounced ringing in my ears and an acrid smell of some kind of explosive filling my lungs. Outside the car is where the flashing lights are coming from. Red, blue, mostly red with some bright flashes of white light. There is something going on but my hearing is so confused that I’m not quite sure where its coming from. Being upside down is very disorienting.

Soon someone is shouting at me to see if I’m all right. I cough out as positive response as I can and see that hydraulic cutters are working to free me from what is left of my car. What happened?

A trip to a local hospital to confirm that my injuries are relatively minor and then I call my lawyer.

She tells me that I don’t have to worry about a thing. There are already a couple of cases where my model of car has autonomously driven into an accident. It appears that under a specific set of circumstances the software tries to divide by zero and send the vehicle off the road.

My insurance company tells me everything is going to be fine as well and that I have full replacement coverage. I don’t think though that I will purchase another autonomous driver just yet.

Then the news comes to me. The car has been impounded and the car company has contended that the fault is mine. I have modified the car and the state has opted to relieve them of any liability if the car has been modified.

Modified? I don’t recall modifying the car.

When the original tires wore out I found that the model tires were only made for new car sales. Some kind of deal where the tire company and the manufacturer work out a specific tire just for rolling off the assembly line. I didn’t enjoy the ride of the run-flats so I went to an online supplier and ordered a highly rated set of tires along with a set of good looking alloy rims. Bad decision as that is considered enough of a modification to exempt the manufacturer from liability. But there is more.

The new wheels and tires required tire pressure monitor sensors as well since the original ones were broken as the old tires were dismounted. The manufacturer contends that the replacement TPM sensors were not up to their standards and were probably initialized incorrectly since they were not installed at a dealership. How do I know?

Soon I find out that a host of other “modifications” existed on my car. The brake job that I had performed did not use factory approved materials nor were they programmed properly to provide accurate information to the car’s computer system. The tire size did not conform to the computers program to control speed and acceleration. There was also criticism that my last alignment did not properly initialize the electronic steering of the government mandated stability control.

I had also failed to come in for updates to the computer that were available at the dealership. There had been no recalls, but technical new letters had been distributed to patch the software when the cars came in for routine service. I had chosen to have my car serviced through a local independent service garage where all the technicians were certified.


All the above is fictional, up to a point. Nevada has passed twenty-two pages of legislated rules to govern driverless vehicles. Some states, such as Florida, are attempting to tackle the liability issues. That state’s legislature has exempted the original car maker from liability if the self-driving vehicle was modified.

Self-driving capabilities MIGHT be a positive development in motor vehicles. The concept holds the promise of safer driving and more economical fuel consumption. Certainly a computer will not get distracted, sleepy, or inebriated. But computers operate by the rules humans develop. Computers were developed to solve the problem of humans making errors in computations and today the hardware is impressively powerful and accurate, but the programming is still done by human brains and hands and is subject to the same errors.

In order to retain liability from the manufacturer it would seem that once you buy your self-driving vehicle you will have to have everything done through that manufacturer’s service facility including all replacements. You will still have the option of buying your fuel some place else though.

Jim's Garage
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