Disclaimer: The opinions of the columnists are their own and not necessarily those of their employer.
C. Warren Axelrod

HAL as Your Car’s Co-Pilot

If you recall, in my BlogInfoSec column of May 2, 2016 “Lip Reading Computers … Here Comes HAL,” I described an article about how computers were being trained to lip read and immediately related it to the treacherous lip-reading computer named HAL from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Less than a year later, Eric Taub wrote an article “Your Car May Soon Know When You’re Too Sleepy to Drive” in an “Automobiles” column on page B4 of The New York Times of March 17, 2017, which describes the latest sensors that “will monitor posture, heart, rate, facial expression, eye blinks and other measures.” [It just occurred to me {slow) that the term “automobile” might have been used prematurely when referring to driver-controlled vehicles and that it now can be applied more accurately to self-driving cars. This would mean that we should probably should have referred to most modern-day cars as “driver-mobiles.” Hence, my proposed use of the term “auto autos” when referring to autonomous ground vehicles.]

Taub’s article features Nvidia’s AI Co-Pilot artificial-intelligence tool in a series of photographs, which can track your gaze and head movements … and lip read! Although there is no reference to lip reading per se in the text of the article, it is clearly designated as such in one of the photographs.

No friendly inflatable co-pilot is this, as in the movie “Airplane.” Nvidia’s AI Co-Pilot has the capability of monitoring your every move and expression. Just think what could be done with such information if transmitted to a central database and further subjected to big-data analytics. Even if companies promise that such information would not be attributed to specific individuals, we all know that facial recognition is well on its way to being able to identify essentially everyone (and everything) on Earth. So now you will have real-time monitoring of drivers (and passengers?) in cars with Nvidia’s technology and it is likely that the technology will be deployed elsewhere, possibly in conjunction with CCTV systems. I would not be surprised if large numbers of individuals took to wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Then engineers would come up with systems that recognize body characteristics, like height, weight, and ambulatory behavior, such as gait (Spoiler alert: For example, Kevin Spacey’s limp in movie “The Usual Suspects”). And, of course, iris recognition would work on folks wearing masks anyway, so that eyeball transplants, such as the one so graphically demonstrated on Tom Cruise in the movie “The Minority Report,” might become more common for those not wanting to be recognized.

We are all well aware that online privacy as such no longer exists despite the efforts of privacy advocacy groups and some meager government efforts. We’re now facing a loss of privacy in the physical world that not only identifies individuals but tracks their locations and activities. I have remarked that the current traffic-signal monitoring cameras only identify a law-breaking vehicle and not its driver, which avoids getting points on your license, but that, with face recognition, it would be only a matter of time before the driver can also be identified. It seems that such a time is not far away since soon your car will be able to tattle-tale on you to the traffic-signal camera without your being able to circumvent this devious technology.

If you are really interested in prognostications about the potential extent of in-vehicle and vehicle-to-everything technologies, watch Robert Thibadeau’s lecture on “Speaking to Vehicular/IoT Technology Listening” which is available (for a short time, apparently) at https://www.drivetrust.com/havtalk/

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