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Category: Post Car Society

Tractor hacking and the right to repair

Vice Motherboard has an article about US farmers hacking their John Deere tractors, because the software in the machinery comes with very limiting conditions.

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America’s heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.[…]

“If things could get better, [companies like John Deere] should be forced to freely distribute the same software dealers have,” they said. “And stop locking down [Engine Control Module] reading functionality. They do this to force you to use their services, which they have a 100 percent monopoly on.”[…]

“What happens in 20 years when there’s a new tractor out and John Deere doesn’t want to fix these anymore?” the farmer using Ukrainian software told me. “Are we supposed to throw the tractor in the garbage, or what?”

 

 

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Magic circles banning autonomous cars

Trapping Autonomous Cars

Somebody sent me a link to Vice withe the comment “A multiple hit in the Venn Diagram of your interests”.

It’s about an artist using technology disguised as ritual magic to trap self-driving cars (and similar shenanigans). The assessent was correct, this is beautiful.

The image from the article shown above shows a self-driving car inside fake street markings. The broken lines allow the cars logic to enter the circle, the unbroken linkes mark a demarcation that must not be crossed, hence the car can never leave.

It ties back to a story my driving instructor told me. He was making a point about “How things are being presented matters”, relating about a beginners driver who had been told to imagine unbroken lines as a “wall that cannot be crossed” and who because of that had problems – sometimes rules must be broken to preserve their meaning and spirit.

 

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“Autonomous”. You keep using that word.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

ARD-Reporter does not understand the term “autonomous”.

Thanks for the pointer. Cars need 5G [networking] because of latency. Short reaction time for braking.

Autonomous

Nope. That’s not how it works. (Twitter thread starts at https://twitter.com/ARDreporter/status/836838622716395520)

Generally: Cars cannot trust externally supplied data (“cloud data”) for critical driving safety things. The cloud may be unavailable, the link into the cloud may be unavailable or the information fed into the cloud may be wrong, maliciously wrong or outdated. So all that external environment information is as trustworthy as the spoken traffic report after the radio news, it’s a machine readable, more detailed version of exactly that.

Ground truth from the sensors always has to be able to supercede that, and the car must always be able to drive safely with ground truth from sensors alone.

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