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

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kq4ym 9/26/2017 | 12:58:37 PM
Re: An ethical car? You probably could engineer a vehicle to do or don't do pretty much anything. But, whether the effort and cost would be justifiable might be the real issue. And then there's the safety issues involved for those unexpected ocassions when we don't know the consequences and the programmed vehicle might just do things that would be totally oppositie of what we'd want it to do. Complicated stuff isn't always simply implemented.
brooks7 9/24/2017 | 5:18:36 PM
Re: Ethics @Joe,


Wrong movie...try Wall-E.



Joe Stanganelli 9/24/2017 | 4:21:23 PM
Re: Ethics > Or, are you talking about a state of the world where everyone owns or uses an autonomous vehicle and pedestrians and cyclists don't exist anymore?

Could be. This is the very type of future envisioned by the Pixar movie Cars...
mendyk 9/19/2017 | 2:25:24 PM
Re: Ethics Picture Death Race 2030 -- but with no drivers.
HedKrash 9/19/2017 | 12:55:29 PM
Ethics To recycle an old joke - never mind Ethics, what about Sutthics? This is countyist reportage.

Seriously though, when we stop worrying about the general failure modes - recognising people vs dummies, red stop lights vs red light districts etc then I'll start worrying about cars with ethics. Till then, there are a significant number of complex real world problems to be fixed before automated cars can co-exist safely and effectively with high density mixed mode traffic and populations. Or, are you talking about a state of the world where everyone owns or uses an autonomous vehicle and pedestrians and cyclists don't exist anymore?
Phil_Britt 9/18/2017 | 2:11:53 PM
Re: An ethical car? However, I think OnStar can still shut off a car (i.e., in cases of theft). It might not be too far afield to think that the government could get a warrant for OnStar to shut off one or more vehicles. Big Brother is here.


Joe Stanganelli 9/18/2017 | 1:11:31 PM
Re: An ethical car? @Dan: Indeed, autonomous cars are pretty easy to fool. Hand gestures can fool them into thinking a squirrel or other creature/object has leapt into the road. Using some tape or other materials to tinker with stop signs can fool the cars into thinking their speed-limit signs. And so on and so forth. Imagine fooling a car to come to a jolting halt -- and the lifelong pain and damage that would be therefore wrought on the driver and passengers by way of soft-tissue damage.
Joe Stanganelli 9/18/2017 | 1:09:20 PM
Re: An ethical car? @Phil: Moreover, it will be the average, law-abiding citizenry that is inconvenienced and harmed and have their civil liberties trampled upon if government seizes direct control of their cars. THAT'S how the bad guys win.
Joe Stanganelli 9/18/2017 | 1:07:25 PM
Re: An ethical car? This isn't an area of law that I practice/deal with (and, therefore, for this and other reasons, this is DEFINITELY not legal advice), but from what I understand from my colleagues, those automatic camera/sensor citations are pretty easy to get dismissed because of reliability issues and the lack of a human accuser/witness -- and, thus, the popular wisdom is to never pay, always fight.
Phil_Britt 9/16/2017 | 6:30:24 PM
Re: An ethical car? Though technological progress can be hacked, the key is to make it too difficult to hack to be worth the effort. Doing so won't get ridof terrorism, it will just have terrorists look for another path with less resistance.
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