Threat assessment: robo cars & toasters

Which kind of robot will be the first to arise and smite us? A study called Experimental Security Analysis of a Modern Automobile suggests we keep an eye on the family car.

The paper, written by Karl Koscher and a team of 10 other researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California San Diego, was presented at the 2010 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) symposium on security and privacy, in Berkeley, California.

Unlike the mindless jalopies of the past, it points out, “Today’s automobile is no mere mechanical device, but contains a myriad of computers.”

This myriad has powers to do good things for us humans, as well as bad things to us. Already, in some cases, the microchip hordes quietly, beneficently take control from the driver….

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.