I was annoyed to read this report.
In closed-door meetings last March, U.S. transportation regulators and others grappled with questions about whether police should have the power to disable self-driving cars and whether an automatic alert that a robo-taxi had been in a wreck could violate an occupant’s privacy, a report released on Tuesday showed.
. . .
Many participants in the meetings “agreed that it is a question of when, not if, there is a massive cyber security attack targeting” autonomous vehicles and said “planning exercises are needed to prepare for and mitigate a large-scale, potentially multimodal cyber security attack,” according to the report.
Law enforcement officials expressed interest in being able to interact with, direct, and potentially control AVs during emergencies, the report said.
However, the same pathways that would allow police to stop a self-driving car could be exploited by hackers or terrorists, the meeting participants said.
“At the end of the day, policymakers likely need to answer 10 to 15 key questions,” Derek Kan, the Transportation Department’s undersecretary for policy, said in March, according to the summary.
“These range from things like, how do you integrate with public safety officials? Should we require the exchange of data? What are our requirements around privacy or cyber security? And how do we address concerns from the disability and elderly communities?”
. . .
The Transportation Department is expected to release updated autonomous vehicle guidance later this summer that could address some of the issues raised during the meetings.
There’s more at the link.
Did you notice anything about that series of meetings? You guessed it. It was all bureaucrats and manufacturers. Where were the voices of citizens like you and I? Deafening in their silence, I guess.
We’re about to have these rules and regulations imposed on us, whether we like it or not. They’ll be designed to give manufacturers clarity, to give bureaucrats yet more mechanisms by which to govern and frustrate us, and to give law enforcement yet more powers over us during our everyday activities. We won’t be asked whether or not we approve of such measures. It’s yet another sign of how far down the slippery slope we’ve slid since our Constitution was drawn up. Nowadays, laws masquerade as regulations, and they don’t have to be specifically debated in or passed by Congress at all. The Founding Fathers would not have approved.
Note, in particular, the implications of such regulations for our personal security. Consider these scenarios:
- A dangerous criminal tries to make a getaway in an unknown vehicle. Cops immediately disable all vehicles within a one- or two-mile radius of the crime scene, to give themselves time to look for him and stop him getting away. However, in doing so, they ensure that he remains a threat to everyone living nearby. What’s more, any vehicle that’s on an urgent mission – taking a sick child to hospital, transporting an urgently-needed shipment to a business waiting for it, and so on – is going to be caught up in the “freeze”. The consequences may be very bad indeed . . . but the bureaucrats won’t care about that. It’s not their problem, after all.
- A major weather event (e.g. a hurricane, a storm front bringing the probability of tornadoes, etc.) is approaching your area. Like any sensible person, you’re prepared to “get out of Dodge” as soon as your family has gathered at their prearranged rendezvous point. However, local authorities arbitrarily decide that the roads are already too busy, and they want to stop them getting any busier: so they disable all vehicles that aren’t already in motion, preventing them from joining the exodus. What’s your family going to do?
- During social unrest, authorities want to prevent others coming in from other areas to join the rioters. They decide to shut down all vehicles within a given distance of the disturbance. You’re passing through on the interstate, without a care in the world, when suddenly your vehicle switches itself off and coasts to a halt – just in time for you to see a mob running onto the freeway, heading in your direction. You’ve just been dumped into a potentially life-threatening situation, because some bureaucrat thought that would be a good idea.
- Cops want to do a sobriety check on a busy road one Friday night. Instead of waving cars over, they issue computerized instructions that command every vehicle to slow down and come to a stop at their designated road block position; and they refuse to release your vehicle until they’re good and ready, whether or not you’ve been drinking. Detention without cause? Fourth Amendment? What Fourth Amendment?
Remember, too, that these regulations won’t only affect self-driving cars. The technology already exists to disable any vehicle remotely. GM’s OnStar service was the first to offer it (AFAIK, you can’t buy a GM vehicle today without OnStar being built in, even if it’s not activated), and others have followed. If your vehicle was made within the last half-dozen years or so, it may have that “feature” built into it, whether you wanted it or not. There’s no technical reason why authorities can’t order car manufacturers to activate such services on demand, so that they can shut down traffic. Does that make you feel any more comfortable? No, I thought it wouldn’t . . .
… the automated future means that instead of being able to just jump in your car and go where you please, when you please and how you please – you’ll be carted around as they please, when they please and how they please.
If they please.
If we let them.
Big Brother is getting too damned big brother-ish. I suppose it’s the inevitable consequence of a society where people are regarded, and treated, as mere numbers, digits in a computer system, a broad mass of humanity rather than individuals who matter as such. I find it demeaning, undignified and immensely frustrating. If I find myself trapped because of such bureaucratic actions, you may be sure I’m going to take steps to express my frustration, both during and after the event.
Yes, I’m old-fashioned and curmudgeonly. So sue me.