The Dark Side of Autonomous Vehicles?

Readers of this blog will know that I have a generally optimistic view of driverless cars, believing that a computer is likely to avoid many human frailties and generally reduce the number of crashes.

My viewpoint got a jolt this week. The technologist half of my brain has been enjoying the New Relic Future Talk series. While I didn’t catch it in person, this week I watched the video of Andrew Wilson (Intel’s open source compliance officer) discussing the potential role for open source software in autonomous vehicles.

Some of the potential problems he points out with software-driven vehicles:

  • Software updating – cars remain in service for many years. How do you install updates? Imagine if the car  you’re driving today was still running on Windows 95!
  • Security – Can the NSA (or even more malevolent actors) bug or sabotage your car by inserting code?

Andrew suggests that open source, with more transparent code, can address at least some of these issues. He also posits that manufacturers will have a strong incentive to collaborate since most of the software stack will not be competitive features.

Will your next car run Windows or Linux?

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