Internet of Things (IoT) and AI Self-Driving Cars

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By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider

Internet of Things (IoT), it’s here already to some extent, it’s 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 2020 there will be perhaps 30 billion IoT devices worldwide. That’s a tripling of growth. Some would say that’s actually a quite conservative number and the growth could be several times higher.

Where are these IoT devices?

Allow a moment of a brief story to highlight that they are in places that we don’t yet traditionally think they would be.

Recently, during an internationally televised news conference, the President of Russia handed a soccer ball to the President of the United States, doing so as a result of the world soccer games that were held in Russia and with similar games to occur in the U.S. in the future. This seemed at the moment like a gracious act, a light-hearted matter, and something that added a sunnier touch to the otherwise very heavy and dark matters that the two heads of state would normally be consumed with (small things like nuclear weapons!).

A news agency later on pointed out that the soccer ball might have an IoT device in it. Heavens! Was this a Cold War era kind of trick to get the President of the United States to carry around a secret listening device wherever he might go? Just imagine this soccer ball traveling with him on Air Force One, capturing the most private of conversations. Imagine the soccer ball sitting on his desk in the White House. There it is, in plain sight, and yet no one suspecting that it’s transmitting tons of American secrets straight back to the Kremlin.

Well, of course it had an IoT device in it. Many of the latest soccer balls have a computer chip that is used to transmit information to a mobile app or similar system and indicate how many times the ball is kicked, how fast it goes, and the like. In this case, it was an Adidas soccer ball and openly advertised that it has a chip, along with there being a tag on the outside of the soccer ball to indicate that it contained a chip.

Admittedly, most people aren’t yet familiar with chips inside soccer balls, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, and the like. In some cases, the costs of adding the chip have kept those sporting goods items at a higher price point and so not yet found their way into the hands of the masses. In other cases, people aren’t yet comfortable with their sporting goods being able to record and communicate, and likely until the existing generation becomes adults will we see widespread acceptance (i.e., the kids of today, upon becoming adults in the future, will want such features and fully expect that all sporting goods items will have them built-in).

So, there were many of us in the high-tech field that were bemused at this outcry of a “transmitter” being inside the soccer ball. Yes, we said, there’s a chip in there and what’s new news about that? To keep the story going, the conspiracy theorists said that the Russians knew that we knew that a soccer ball would have a chip in it, and so they Russians hacked it or replaced it with a true tracking device, and figured we’d not notice because we would assume it was only a conventional soccer ball containing a conventional computer chip. The old switcheroo.

Or, maybe we knew that they knew that we knew, and so maybe the President has been whispering things to the soccer ball that are faked secrets, in hopes that the Russians will believe it. Now that makes the most sense for sure!

See my article about conspiracy theorists: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/conspiracy-theories-about-ai-self-driving-cars/

Anyway, the point of the story is that we are gradually seeing that IoT devices are everywhere around us. Indeed, some claim that 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.

For the topic of grand convergence, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/grand-convergence-explains-rise-self-driving-cars/

For my article about edge computing, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/edge-computing-ai-self-driving-cars/

As aside, there are concerns that disposable computing is going to become a massive environmental nightmare. Right now, we’re all concerned that there are too many plastic straws and plastic bags being tossed into our landfills and oceans. Think about how much ecological damage those millions upon millions of discarded computer chips could create. But, that’s a different topic. Let’s get back to the topic at-hand.

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. Imagine computer chips on our clothing ala FitBit, and imagine computer chips on all of your items at home such as your refrigerator and coffee maker, and computer chips on your items at the office such as your chairs and stapler, etc. All of these chips being able to have some kind of sensory capability. All of these chips having an ability to electronic communicate whatever they detect. 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!

At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI systems for self-driving 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

See my framework about AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/

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. Yes, it could be considered an edge problem, but it’s an important one and it should not be ignored or neglected.

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.

See my article about privacy and AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/privacy-ai-self-driving-cars/

See my article about security and AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/ai-deep-learning-backdoor-security-holes-self-driving-cars-detection-prevention/

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.

This can be as straightforward as the entertainment systems in an AI self-driving car, which given that people are likely to be in their self-driving car a lot of the time, it is anticipated that most of the true AI self-driving cars are going to be internally outfitted like your own movie theatre. For that two-hour morning commute, you won’t be driving the car, so what else will you do? Watch a movie, or maybe take a course from an online university. The inside of the self-driving car is going to have tons of electronics and most of those are going to be IoT-related devices.

There are some that are even designing IoT devices for the exterior of your self-driving car. Maybe you want to collect some data about the world outside of your AI self-driving car and none of the already built-in sensors will collect it. So, instead, you have included onto the outside body of your self-driving car IoT devices for that purpose. You then collect the electronic data that streams from those 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? They might all be bombarding your AI self-driving car with requests to electronically communicate. Which of those requests are worthy, and which are not?

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. And, there’s a bridge over the next hill that is sending out an electronic signal that there’s been a car accident on the bridge and to watch out for slowing traffic. These are all legitimate V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) kinds of IoT communications.

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. Plus, suppose that the geographical area you are driving in has thousands of these legitimate V2I going on. It could be that no one thought beforehand about how much the V2I electronic traffic there would be, and the city or locale has just kept adding IoT after IoT, under the assumption that more is better.

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. Perhaps I’m in traffic behind you, and I want your self-driving car out of my way, so I have my AI self-driving car tell your AI self-driving car that the traffic further up ahead is snarled, and it convinces your AI to get off the freeway. Nice, since I now have a clearer path ahead for my AI self-driving car.

See my article about swarm intelligence and AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/swarm-intelligence-ai-self-driving-cars-stigmergy-boids/

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. This is sent via the V2V to another car up ahead that has arranged for an advertiser to use the outside of the self-driving car as an electronic billboard. The ad now displays a new diet regimen that a company is trying to sell, with the ad timed so that as the ridesharing AI self-driving car goes past it, you’ll be right there to see the ad.

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. When you get into that AI self-driving car as a rideshare passenger, maybe it videos you. It then beams the video via its own Internet connection, or maybe passes it along to some other IoT device in the AI self-driving car or near to it.

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. They will be with us, while walking down the street, and while riding in an AI self-driving car. The AI self-driving car itself is a variant of an IoT, and will contain IoT’s, some of which were purposely put there, others that you bring into the self-driving car. Will we need governmental regulation to help protect us? Can government protection even do so? Do we want the government to intervene?

See my article about federal regulations and AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/

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.

Similar to the soccer ball story, it might now be listening and recording everyone else that comes into that AI self-driving car. Shocking? Maybe for us, but the next generation that grows-up with pervasive computing and IoT is not going to be particularly surprised by this kind of item. They will have grown-up knowing about it.

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.

Copyright 2018 Dr. Lance Eliot

This content is originally posted on AI Trends.