Here’s How The Internet Of Things (IoT) Will Impact Self-Driving Cars

Dr. Lance Eliot, AI Insider

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(Ed. Note: For reader’s interested in Dr. Eliot’s ongoing business analyses about the advent of self-driving cars, see his online Forbes column:

Internet of Things (IoT), it is all around us, and yet it also has only just begun.

Some estimates are that there exist today around 8 to 9 billion IoT devices globally, and by the year 2021 there will be perhaps 30 billion IoT devices worldwide.

That’s a tripling of growth.

By some accounts that’s actually a very conservative number and the growth rate could be several times higher.

According to various researchers, on a daily basis we might have 1,000 to 5,000 objects surrounding us at any point in time that could potentially someday have an IoT device on them.

We are headed toward an era known as ubiquitous computing or what some call pervasive computing.

This refers to computers that are everywhere we are.

What has suddenly brought forth this emergence of IoT?

It’s the grand convergence of the ongoing miniaturization of computers, allowing them to be small enough to put on just about anything.

These chips are also durable enough that they can survive while on whatever they are placed on or into. They are powerful enough to have features that make them useful, such as sensing light, sensing temperature, capturing sounds, etc. They are getting lower in cost; thus they are inexpensive to use. Some even say that we should consider this to be “disposable” computing, meaning that it is so cheap that even if only used for short duration and then discarded, it’s worth the cost.

As aside, there are concerns that disposable computing is going to become a massive environmental nightmare. Think about how much ecological damage those millions upon millions of discarded computer chips could create.

What really makes these IoT devices significant is that they have the ability to electronically communicate.

If they were simply standalone non-connectable devices that couldn’t tattle, we all probably would not be so excited about them. These though have the ability to electronically communicate to the outside world. That’s the “Internet” part of the Internet of Things mantra. These devices can connect with something else, typically via WiFi or Bluetooth or NFC or whatever, and what they have to say can quickly go around the world.

The advent of IoT is going to likely have profound impacts on society.

The “dumb” objects around us will all become “smart” objects by the addition of IoT. If the object itself gets feedback from the chip, and can adjust based on the feedback, the object itself then becomes possibly “personalized” in a manner that otherwise it was just a mass commodity item.

Great Promise, Great Peril

With great promise there is often great peril.

The privacy ramifications are enormous.

It will be like having eyes and ears being able to detect our every move. It will be electronically communicated, perhaps without you even knowing that it has.

The data then might be used in very untoward and at times scary ways.

There’s the security aspects that also give us all grey hair.

You probably are aware that there are thousands of baby cams that people put in their home nursery so they could watch their baby while at work or in another room of their house. Turns out that many of those IoT devices had a default password that people didn’t change when they setup the baby cam. All of a sudden, nefarious people tapped into these baby cams and posted them onto the Internet. Some of these posts were done to showcase how “stupid” people were about their security. Others posted it out of other less noble reasons.

So, we will get home automation, connected health, wearable tech, and all of these other exciting aspects via IoT, but we also will get the chances of humongous privacy violations and possibly tons upon tons of computer security problems. Life always seems to do things this way.

There’s going to be “Enterprise IoT” consisting of IoT in the workplace. There’s going to be “Home IoT” consisting of home automation. There’s going to be “Individual” IoT, consisting of us wearing or maybe inserting into our bodies all sorts of IoT devices.

What else might there be?

There is going to be “AI Self-Driving Cars” IoT.

Yes, Internet of Things will be intersecting with AI self-driving cars.

Mark my words!

AI Self-Driving Cars And IoT

At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI systems for self-driving driverless autonomous cars. Among the many facets of how high-tech will come to play in self-driving cars, the advent of IoT is absolutely going to be a part of AI self-driving cars.

There are these key ways that IoT will be involved with AI self-driving cars:

  • IoT Self: AI self-driving car is in a sense, in of itself, a large-scale IoT device
  • IoT Add-ons: IoT devices natively included into an AI self-driving car
  • IoT Walk-in’s: IoT devices brought into an AI self-driving car usually temporarily
  • IoT Nearby: IoT devices outside and nearby an AI self-driving car and within communication range

For some, they are either blindly just pretending that IoT is not going to be a factor involving AI self-driving car, or they assume they’ll catch-up later on.

Better still, look ahead to the future and realize that the AI self-driving car needs to be ready for an IoT world and we should be preparing for that future today. That’s what we are doing, getting ready for it.

Few of the auto makers or tech firms are giving this much consideration right now. They would say this is an “edge” problem, meaning that it is not at the core of what is needed to get an AI self-driving car to undertake the driving task.

Let’s consider each of the key ways in which an AI self-driving car is impacted by IoT devices.

The most apparent way involves considering the AI self-driving car as an IoT device. It’s connected and can appear to be an IoT.

Now, we all know that it’s a large-scale IoT and not some simple chip. Nonetheless, from the perspective of someone on the Internet, it could appear like its something that is an IoT. This brings up the myriad of privacy and security concerns about AI self-driving cars.

Next, there are going to be IoT devices natively in an AI self-driving car.

Auto makers and tech firms are going to have discussions with various IoT device makers and realize that it would make sense to add those IoT devices into the self-driving car. Rather than the auto maker or tech firm having to do everything regarding the self-driving car, it’s going to be more expedient to use other third-party IoT devices.

The third aspect of IoT for AI self-driving cars involves bringing IoT devices into the self-driving car.

Suppose you are ridesharing and opt to use someone else’s AI self-driving car. You meanwhile have a dozen different IoT devices on you, including for your watch, for your jewelry, in your shoes, in your jacket, etc. You are a walking smorgasbord of IoT devices. When you step into that AI self-driving car, they are all going into the self-driving car with you.

By-and-large, they will be in the AI self-driving car temporarily, typically for the duration of your ridesharing trip (and, then, you get out of the AI self-driving car, along with the cornucopia of IoT devices already on you).

What IoT Does Inside the AI Self-Driving Car

What difference does it make that you are bringing those dozen or more IoT devices into the AI self-driving car?

Here’s some possibilities:

  • You might want to connect your IoT devices with the WiFi or other communications capability of the AI self-driving car so that you can get Internet service to your IoT devices.
  • You might want your IoT devices to communicate directly to the AI self-driving car.
  • You might want to have your IoT devices communicate with the IoT devices already in the AI self-driving car.
  • Etc.

There’s some bad news right now about these possibilities.

The standards and protocols for IoT devices are still somewhat blurry and not well formulated and not well accepted. Things are pretty fragmented right now.

This means that you could end-up that many of your walk-in IoT devices aren’t going to be readily able to communicate either with the AI self-driving car and nor with the other IoT devices in the AI self-driving car. This is something still needed to be worked out.

Another concern is the swamping factor.

You get into the AI self-driving car, and all of sudden it’s trying to devote a lot of attention to electronically communicating with your IoT devices. Will this distract from the act of driving the self-driving car? Will it consume limited computing resources available in the self-driving car that otherwise should go toward other tasks?

Add to this the other possibility mentioned of IoT Nearby, which is that there are going to be lots of IoT devices outside of your AI self-driving car, ones that you drive past, ones that when you are parked your self-driving car is near to, and how will your AI self-driving car handle their nearness and attempts to poke and prod?

Some worry that we’ll see the classic DoS (Denial of Service) attack occur at AI self-driving cars. A nefarious person might purposely try to overwhelm your AI self-driving car by beaming thousands of requests from IoT devices sitting by the roadside. This is actually something that is being actively researched and often referred to as DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service).

You might say, well, just have the AI self-driving car deny all requests to communicate. But, suppose we have speed limit signs that are digitally-based and transmit the allowed maximum speed on that stretch of road to your AI self-driving car. Suppose there’s a traffic signal up ahead sending out an electronic signal that the light is about to go red.

I realize that presumably there should be some kind of special encoding that indicates when a legitimate IoT is trying to communicate with your AI self-driving car. Even once we get there, keep in mind that there are bound to be spoofing efforts to mimic those real signals.

Let’s also include into this mix something else that is both good and bad about IoT, namely V2V.

V2V is vehicle to vehicle communications.

The idea is that AI self-driving cars will electronically communicate and share with each other about what’s going on. An AI self-driving car that’s a mile ahead of you on the freeway might inform your AI that the freeway is blocked. Thus, your AI self-driving car might realize it should get off the freeway at the next exit and use side streets to get around the snarl.

Do you want your AI self-driving car to communicate with any and all other AI self-driving cars that also have V2V? Maybe not. Suppose someone gets their AI to send something untoward or incorrect to your AI self-driving car.

We also need to consider what your V2V is going to tell other self-driving cars about you.

Suppose you get into my ridesharing AI self-driving car and your IoT devices that you bring into the AI self-driving car are able to communicate with the AI self-driving car. The AI self-driving car discovers that you are overweight via an IoT device you are wearing for fitness purposes.

These IoT devices can communicate with each other in potentially real-time, and rapidly transmit around the electronic information in ways that you might not even consider.

Consider another possible concern. There is likely to be a camera pointed inward in most AI self-driving cars.

This allows the owner of the AI self-driving car to see what’s going on inside the AI self-driving car, such as if they are renting it out as a ridesharing vehicle. Let’s also assume there is an audio capture capability too.

This takes us back to the earlier points about IoT and privacy.

Digital surveillance will be ramped up with the advent of IoT. We are going to be surrounded by trackable objects.

Suppose too that someone gets into an AI self-driving car and secretly plants an IoT device in that ridesharing vehicle? They hide it under a seat or manage to put it inside the self-driving car so that it looks as though it properly belongs there.

Presumably, AI self-driving car makers will even provide some kind of electronic sweeping device that can detect what IoT’s are in the self-driving car. Maybe even be able to prevent unauthorized IoT’s from functioning. We’ll have to see how far this goes.

The rise of IoT is aligned with the rise of AI self-driving cars.

It’s crucial to anticipate what the intersection of the two will produce.

And, it’s important the auto makers and tech firms design their AI self-driving cars accordingly.

This is one of those technical topics that’s also a societal topic that is also a business topic which is also a governmental topic, all rolled into one. IoT and AI self-driving cars, they are a potential match made in heaven.

Let’s just protect ourselves from the devil and a potential inferno.

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Copyright © 2019 Dr. Lance B. Eliot

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Dr. Lance B. Eliot is a renowned global expert on AI, Stanford Fellow at Stanford University, was a professor at USC, headed an AI Lab, top exec at a major VC.

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