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By 2040, more machines will commit crimes than humans


Cyber crime accounted for 53 per cent of all crime in 2015, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA) Cyber Crime Assessment 2016. Cyber security experts forecast this figure is set to increase with the rise of smart cars and robots.

“It’s only a matter of time before we see instances of people left helpless, unable to drive their cars unless they pay up a ransom,” said Raj Samani in a comment to RaconteurSamani is chief technology officer, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Intel Security.

“We’re not talking about driverless cars here, just a standard modern vehicle with connectivity capabilities,” he added.

Driverless cars have already proved easy to corrupt, with methods ranging from jamming radio signals and altering sound waves to something as simple as confusing the sensors by covering objects in black foam, as seen with the Tesla Model S.

As far as robots go, experts believe that the more sophisticated and ubiquitous they become, the more dangerous they could be. Tracey Follows, chief strategy and innovation officer at The Future Laboratory, has forecasted that by 2040, more crime will be committed by machines than humans.

“Futurists have been forecasting a  sharp rise in lone-wolf terror atttacks for years,” she said to Raconteur.

“But once robots can be hacked to become suicide-bombing machines, lone-robot attacks could become rife too.”

It is worth noting that robot crime will not always extend to extremes such as terrorism. In 2014 for example, a trio of London-based Swiss artists coded an automated online shopping bot, instructing it to spend $100 in bitcoin per week on a dark web market that listed over 16,000 items, not all of which were illegal. In the few weeks of its deployment the robot purchased “fake Diesel jeans, a baseball cap with a hidden camera, a stash can, a pair of Nike trainers, a decoy letter (used to see if your address is being monitored), 200 Chesterfield cigarettes, a set of fire brigade-issued keys, a fake Louis Vuitton handbag and 10 ecstasy pills”.

For many experts, this raises the question as to who should be blamed for robot crime, and what the punishment should be. The artists above for example, programmed their robot to make purchases from the dark web, but did not specifically instruct the robot to purchase illegal items such as drugs.

According to Ron Chrisley’s article in The Conversation (UK) last year, robots do not have intentions, emotions or purposes, “despite recent alarmist claims”. Believing as such “raises the danger of scapegoating the robot, and failing to hold the human designers, deployers and users involved fully responsible,” he said.


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