(this is almost a science fiction question, but I’m putting it in GQ because I’m more interested in the science than the fiction.)
One day in the future, self-driving cars may become common. Will they be dangerous?
It seems to me that they could be afflicted with as many problems as my personal computer at home. --viruses, incompatibilty with software, etc
Computers crash sometimes. (yeah, I know—just like cars).
But a computer crash is less serious. And in cases where a crash is so serious as to be totally uncacceptable (military uses, for example), the computers are usually isolated from the internet.
But cars are consumer products, as is the internet. When “Google cars” hit the market, they are going to be connected to the net.
For some things, the cars will require an online connection. (updates of GPS, for example,if a local road is changed to one-way traffic only).
For other things, the cars will have on-line connections for marketing reasons. (People will prefer to buy a car with online music choices, and a built-in link to the manufacturer’s repair diagnostic services. If it’s an all-electric car, it may need a link to a map of recharging stations, etc.)
But what will prevent hackers from spreading viruses to cars? You’re going to feel awfully helpless if you new Google-car suddenly stops in the middle of the street.Or worse–if it takes you somewhere you don’t want to go. Or if the door locks suddenly stop working and you get trapped inside.
And you’re going to feel awfully angry if your brand new, $40,000 car flashes a warning signal that it is needs a refill of Viagra, or that a Nigerian prince wants you to drive to his house.
A computer virus is just irritating, but car viruses will be much worse, and possibly dangerous.
A computer virus is something we put up with, like a kid who vandalizes your mailbox. We don’t feel traumatized.
But a car virus will be like a burglar breaking into your bedroom while you are asleep.That’s traumatizing.
Am I wrong?