FBI Thinks Driverless Cars Could Be Criminals' New Best Friends
from the I,-for-one,-welcome-out-new-Robot-Death-Car-overlords dept
There have been dozens of techno-panics over the past several years, but one usually expects cooler heads to prevail in government agencies where the word “investigations” is in the title and the employees have access to plethora of cutting-edge equipment. (Note: said “cutting-edge equipment” for surveillance only. Agency computer systems remain an outdated mess and the idea of recording in-custody interviews has finally arrived nearly four decades too late.)
We are, of course, talking about the FBI. The FBI’s relationship with technology is painfully one-sided. On one hand, it’s pushing to gets its biometric database online and fully operational, hopefully years before its report on this database’s privacy implications finally arrives. On the other hand, it has argued in court (via the DOJ) that smartphone technology vastly outpaces law enforcement’s tools to access possible evidence and, therefore, should be obtainable without a warrant.
But it is an investigative agency, which would seem to indicate it has the ability to gather facts and come to informed decisions. But it seems to prefer worried conjecture to actual data. (See also: Insane Clown Posse fans are an organized criminal entity.) But here it goes again, seeing another technological development as another way for criminals to gain the upper hand.
In an unclassified but restricted report obtained by the Guardian under a public records request, the FBI predicts that autonomous cars “will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car.”
In a section called Multitasking, the report notes that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today.”
The FBI looks at something that has the potential to make roads much safer and sees… autonomous vehicles loaded with gunmen, all of whom can use both hands to fire at pursuing law enforcement… or something.
Autonomy … will make mobility more efficient, but will also open up greater possibilities for dual-use applications and ways for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon that it is today.”
Sure, the driverless vehicles could be loaded up with explosives and “told” to drive itself to its destination, but that seems like an incredibly expensive way to deliver a payload. And sure, vehicles might be hacked to ignore everything about them that makes driving safer, but that last part is nothing a human operator can’t do in a normal, cheaper vehicle. And any vehicle with a driver can still carry armed criminals/explosives.
Even the FBI admits that autonomous cars present the agency with certain advantages, including the fact that the first few iterations of car AI will be able to do little more than recreate OJ Simpson’s “getaway.”
[A]utonomous cars would likely face many hardships with evasive driving or car chases…
But using this AI for good (and hacking it to serve its purposes) may also revolutionize the FBI and law enforcement’s pursuit techniques.
“[A]lgorithms can control the distance that the patrol car is behind the target to avoid detection or intentionally have a patrol car make opposite turns at intersections, yet successfully meet up at later points with the target.”
While some of this report is undoubtedly dedicated to “what if” scenarios not unlike the risk disclosures included in IPOs, there’s still something ridiculous about an investigative agency being so tuned into the terror frequency that it sees criminal intent in every technological advancement. If we wanted fear-based speculation about potential havoc-wreaking by new inventions, we’d ask the MPAA.