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Wow, this is certainly something to think about in the age of the IoT's.

I guess the question should be asked as to where the line is between when a user should and shouldn't expect a device to work. Especially in the coming age of drivers less cars.

I can easily see a case where each driver-less car will need to talk to a mother-ship if for no other reason than syncing with other cars around it, getting new GPS maps, etc.

I think most people would be rightly disappointed if their car was suddenly bricked and unable to work due to the car's manufacturer end of lifeing their car.

Where is the line between bricking a $300 device and a $30,000 device?

The only close analogy that quickly comes to mind is video games. Most now require online servers to play, or at least get the most out of them. Some companies like ID software have been good about releasing the required code to keep their games online long after they no longer want to support them, others companies have been, ummm, less willing or able to do so.




You don't have to imagine, cars are already being remotely disabled on purpose due to late loan repayment[0].

[0] http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/miss-a-payment-good-l...


Only for borrowers with poor credit who explicitly agree to such a thing as a condition of getting a car loan, though.


Until things like these become "standard clauses", with a side of "data shared with select partners"


For now. But if most lenders require this you couldn't have much of an option to say no. They always test things like this with the market most easily exploited.

Reminds me of prepaid gas and water meters in the UK. They started out only doing them for those who missed payments or had poor credit, but now they're everywhere. Most new homes get a prepay meter which they can wirelessly disconnect.


Considering the competition for customers with good credit, I doubt that lenders will collude to have this included for all loans.


> Most new homes get a prepay meter which they can wirelessly disconnect.

I'm really not clear on why this is insidious. A utility worker has the legal right to come shut it off, why shouldn't they be able to do it remotely?


Because in most European countries, water is considered a human right: No one can turn off your water, your debt will just increase.


Then the problem would seem to be illegal cutoffs, not the method with which they're performed.


Before, they had to get a court order just to get into your house to turn it off – now they can turn you off remotely, and you have to go to court to contest it.


Sorry but none of this sounds insidious to me - if you don't pay for something, you don't get to use it.


Normally I would agree, but not when it's basic services. If you could see the damage it does to a family when water/gas/electricity is cut off, simply because they're poor, I don't believe that most people would feel that it's "fair".

Also prepaid plans are somewhere between 150GBP to 200GBP more expensive peer year, which just adds to the cost of being poor.


What's wrong with that? You don't really own the car if you haven't paid off the debt. As long as it's not disabled while it's being driven (that would endanger others), I don't see an issue with that.


Not just disappointed. A car being in this same situation could be extremely dangerous to people riding in it, or just in the nearby area. Imagine if your autonomous car just stops midway along a motorway at 70mph, or in rush hour traffic, or in just about any other important situation. That's a situation that'd be pretty hard to avoid for a manufacturer, given all the timezones and places around the world that such a vehicle could be used.

At least this device merely controls some devices inside a house, where it switching off is a simple inconvenience rather than a danger to life and limb.

The solution to these problems is fairly simple, at least in theory. The 'smart' device simply loses any functionality dependent on the maker's network when services are shut down. Fewer people complain about a lot of Nintendo's games losing online functionality because there's a single player and various options that doesn't dependent on it. So if Mario Kart 8 or Luigi's Mansion 2 has its servers go offline, you've got a perfectly decent game which simply loses online multiplayer.

In these cases, if the services goes away, it should simply become a normal device that the user configures themself independently of the company's network.


I think the public will eventually notice that gadgets and appliances that rely on apps and internet access are a risky investment. Even multinational appliance manufacturers give up on the smart features in their TVs after several years.

Forget the high end products with their fancy features and instead stick with reliable basic/mid range products that will last for decades rather than years.


Worst part is that every time I turn on my Samsung TV it notifies me that some feature that I have never used will go offline in ~2 months time. Of course, this notification comes with a few minutes delay, so it pops up just a few minutes into a show. gah


What's "amusing" to me is it seems that all except the very lowest end TVs come with "smart" features, now. The good news is that it's not really a differentiator, the bad news is that a poor integration can cause your TV to "boot slowly" -- my current TV, purchased for other reasons but with smart features included, won't let you use the input selection button until about 30s after being turned on from standby.


> my current TV, purchased for other reasons but with smart features included, won't let you use the input selection button until about 30s after being turned on from standby.

Just about on par with those vacuum tube TV sets of the past millenium.


The correct answer is that the car must have a documented API that can be served by anybody the owner choose to hire.

That is not the answer most countries are implanting.


Ha - imagine a bank robbery escaping in a driverless car, only to have the manufacturer brick it during their daring escape.


I can imagine a much scarier scenario...

You use whatever app to summon a car. You give it a destination, and instead, the car makes a detour to the local police station. the address you entered is in a higher crime rate locality, and therefore the car owner approved further "screening". So the car goes to the local police station for a routine search of the car (authorized by car owner) and a dog search of you...

That kind of future is one I am worried about.


just because the car owner allow search of his property, it does not make your property available.

and i am also pretty sure even a bad lawyer could get you a criminal kidnap case out of this.


Probably not when the TOS of the autocar service includes consent to such security-related rerouting.


Hah. Has anyone been able to uphold a "You agree to being abducted" in a terms of service before?


It's not, legally, abduction when you are in an airliner and the pilot reroutes because of a security incident; why would it be in a single passenger commercial automated vehicle?


Because you can't just safely step off of a plane? Come on, that's a terrible analogy. Taxi cabs can't suddenly re-route you to the police station against your will.


I'm not sure it is so bad for technology to force us to confront our ideas about justice head on.

From a ridiculous bullshit standpoint, arrest by autocar isn't so far off from stop and frisk.


There was a short story cropped up, I think here on HN, a few weeks back with exactly that scenario.

My search-fu fails to find you a link.



You're right. I wasn't sure if it was here, reddit, or somewhere else. IIRC, it also had a quadcopter that jammed GPS or something, and the auto-taxi drove through a bridge and fell in the water.


This can already happen with OnStar.


But you can pull the SIM card from OnStar and the car will still work.


it would be easier if the manufacturer has it drive you to the police station instead




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