Could the Connected Car Help Prevent Terrorism?

Future 'intelligent' vehicles could come with a software 'ethics' switch that would prevent them being driven into crowds and used for other nefarious activities.

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

September 15, 2017

2 Min Read
Could the Connected Car Help Prevent Terrorism?

Could the vehicles of the future help prevent one of the most troubling forms of modern urban terrorism?

Drivers ramming cars into crowds of people has become a troubling tactic of terrorists in the last few years. This is because cars are easy to acquire and require no special equipment or training to use for nefarious purposes.

One of the speakers at the GSMA's Connected Vehicle Summit in San Francisco on Thursday talked about one way to possibly prevent that it in the future through the use of driver-operated cars, autonomous vehicles and even drones.

"If someone tries to "drive a car into a crowd... we want an ethics key to tell the thing to switch itself off," said Murat Sonmez, who heads up a group called the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the World Economic Forum (WEF) and is also a WEF board member.

This would be part of the software onboard the car, on "any intelligent vehicle," Somnez told Light Reading after his talk. The group is working on this as part of a project in Boston that involves the mayor and major car manufacturers, among others.

The WEF spends a lot of time working on and talking about the ethics of what it calls the fourth industrial revolution, which involves plenty of focus on intelligent vehicles.

Of course, one obvious loophole here is that terrorists could choose to use older cars that aren't as "intelligent." Obviously, these "dumb" cars will be around for the foreseeable future and incapable of being upgraded with a so-called ethics switch.

There is also always the potential that future intelligent vehicles could themselves be hacked.

Nonetheless, an ethics switch on cars -- and more -- in the near future looks like a distinct possibility.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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