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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Self driving cars



Are we really sure that we want self driving cars.  In fact, are we sure we want a car that has any connection to the Internet.  There are some pretty strong arguments against both self driving cars and against cars which are connected to the Internet (so that software updates can automatically be fed into the car computer).

Just recently there have been some pretty serious hacks.  The NHS (National Heath service of the UK) was taken down and here in New Zealand we just had a program on our National Radio about the hacking of electrical power line companies.  You would have thought that if there were systems with the very best of protection, it would be these.  Perhaps they did have excellent protection but were hacked anyway.

Imagine the chaos if we had even 10% of our cars connected to the Internet when someone managed to hack the system.

Then there is the secret servicees of the United Staes and the so called 5 Eyes.  In America it is illegal for these institutions to spy on American citizens but they do it anyway.  The also hoover up every phone call and e-mail from the rest of the world.  Even having a car which is connected to the internet, never mind self driving, gives these institutions yet another window into the private life of all of us.  And don't give me the argument that if you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear.  That arument is so discredited that it doesn't even justify wasting a paragraph explaining the its falacy.


Suppose, for the sake of the argument the car company has developed a new software program for the electric car I am driving.  No problem.  I will go to my home computer, download the upgrade on to a flash drive, take it to my car and plug it in to the flash drive socket provided.  Besides, I may want to wait a year to let the early adapters test it out before installing it.  The computer world if rife with tales of new computer programs that don't work.

Suppose I need navigation.  I will simply take my cell phone and put it on the Velcro patch on the dash board.
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As for self driving, let me ink out a scenario for you.
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You have a daughter - the apple of your eye.  You insisted that she learn to drive on a gear shift car since you are a little old fashion and value the old skills.  However since she got her license, she has never driven.  You gave her a self driving car for her birthday and she loves it.  Today she is off to a show in the next town with her boyfriend.  ETA 30 minutes.  What do you think she is doing for that half hour.  

She is snogging in the back seat with her boyfriend going at highway speed  when some sort of computer glitch or hack demands that she take the wheel and manage th brakes and accelerator.  You fill in the rest.

I have a strong feeling that an electric car manufacturer who advertises that his cars are not self driving and have no connection to the Internet would have a strong selling point.

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