Data Science

Cryptojacking and AI Self-Driving Cars


By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider

Are you into bitcoins? Actually, I should ask whether you are into cryptocurrency, since the word “bitcoin” can refer to a particular kind of cryptocurrency or it can also be used as a generic reference to digital currencies, similar to how the word “cryptocurrency” is a generalized way of mentioning digital currency or so-called electronic cash. It’s also like saying “Kleenex” and meaning facial tissue versus referring to the specific brand, or like saying “Xerox” and meaning to copy something or making a reference to the well-known copier and workstations firm.

As a quick primer about bitcoins overall and cryptocurrencies, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last ten years or so (by the way, October 31, 2018 was the tenth anniversary of the emergence of cryptocurrencies, which some cleverly pointed out that Halloween seems an apt time due to the aspect that it is perhaps “frightening” as to what these electronic coins might do to our world economy!), you certainly must be aware that there has been a move afoot toward trying to have electronic currency that is not particularly connected to today’s real-world currency. These newly made-up currencies are hoping that people will believe they have intrinsic value and be willing therefore to make what are simply numbers in the computer network into something worthy of using, saving, and spending.

It is as though I opted to tell the world that I have a new kind of currency, the Lancelot coin, and asked everyone to please consider this as real money. Some might be excited about this new currency and be willing to exchange real-world monies for it, such as agreeing that perhaps one US dollar is equal to one-half of a Lancelot coin, and maybe worth 1,000 in Yen.

People might be willing to barter goods and services using the Lancelot coin. The electrician that comes over to fix your home wiring might say that you can pay in Lancelot’s or in US dollars, whichever you prefer. When your offspring mows a neighbor’s lawn, the neighbor might pay your child in Lancelot’s rather than quarters and dimes.

Since the Lancelot is only an electronic currency, and not paper-based or physically composed of coins, it is conducive to transactions in today’s online world. You can just trade the Lancelot’s via your smartphone or tablet or laptop. No need to deal with the laborious aspects of physical coinage and paper-based money. The electronic currency dispenses with the expensive overhead involved in the physical aspects of currency, eliminating the usual woes of storing physical money, transporting it, keeping it in your safe at home or wallet or purse, etc.

Instead, it is all just numbers stored electronically. Nifty!

The underlying framework that dominates the cryptocurrency emergence is known as blockchain. A blockchain is a data structure that can be used to house the made-up cryptocurrency. Software is then used to maintain the blockchain, keeping track of the cryptocurrency as people opt to make use of it. Via the blockchain data structure and software, you can essentially have an on-line ledger that tracks and records transactions. In that sense, you might almost think of the blockchain for a particular cryptocurrency as being akin to a clearinghouse for the cryptocurrency.

When your neighbor electronically transmitted Lancelot coins to your child for mowing their lawn, the blockchain ledger for the Lancelot cryptocurrency would have been updated on-line to indicate that your neighbor had signed-over some of their Lancelot coins to your child. Your child would now likely have an electronic wallet setup on say their smartphone and be able to see how much Lancelot coins they have, along with then using those Lancelot coins when desired. For example, perhaps an ice cream truck drove down the street after the mowing was completed and your child decided to pay for getting some refreshing ice cream with they newly earned Lancelot coins.

Usually, a cryptocurrency is all on its own. By this I mean that it is not somehow backed by a country that says the cryptocurrency is their official form of money. Instead, some private party or maybe a public entity will decide to bring forth a cryptocurrency and see whether the world will be interested in it. If the ice cream truck wouldn’t take Lancelot’s, and didn’t consider it to be of value, this would undermine the act of your child trying to use the Lancelot’s to buy ice cream.

Indeed, only if enough people are willing to accept a particular cryptocurrency as having value, it really is nothing more than numbers on a network. Only once people agree that they will consider it of value does the value then emerge. If nobody likes the Lancelot currency, it is likely doomed to ultimately fall by the wayside. On the other hand, if people like the Lancelot currency and the electrician is willing to use it and the ice cream truck is willing to use it, there might be enough of an impetus that it will become a valued form of currency.

This has brought forth a kind of wild gold-seeking pandemonium. If you can startup a blockchain with the Lancelot cryptocurrency and get others to adopt the Lancelot, you could potentially become a zillionaire overnight. All it takes is to get other people to believe in the electronic currency that you are offering to the world. As the original issuer of Lancelot’s, I might set aside a whole bunch of Lancelot’s for me, and then once everyone else believes that Lancelot’s have value, I’ve got a handy stash of them.

Since a cryptocurrency is only as valuable as believed by people, it can at one moment be high in value and in the next moment plummet in value. This is why of the now hundreds and likely thousands of newly “minted” cryptocurrencies, some are pretty much worthless right now and others are worth a ton. For any given cryptocurrency, it could be positioned on a bubble that will burst at any time.

In some respects, the belief is that some cryptocurrencies are maybe “too big to fail,” which is sometimes used as a comparison to social media. Why does Facebook have around 2.2 billion active users? Partially because it has momentum. The more people that join Facebook, the more other people opt to join Facebook in order to communicate with them. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Likewise, if you have a cryptocurrency that becomes popular, presumably enough other new people are attracted to it, and eventually it grows large enough to possibly be self-sustaining.

Could everyone tomorrow decide to stop using Facebook? Yes, they sure could. As such, everyday is another lucky day for Facebook as long as people continue to believe in using Facebook. The same goes with some of the cryptocurrencies. The popular ones are hoping that a critical mass will make the electronic coins resilient and stable.

Advocates of cryptocurrencies emphasize that the use of blockchain aids in ensuring that the electronic currency is kept secure. This is a vital aspect of anyone that wants to believe in using electronic currency. In contrast to a country that controls how much currency the country decides to put into circulation, and along with the many ways in which fraudulent currency is detected and controlled, the use of cryptocurrency has the same kinds of concerns and yet it is not being maintained by a country per se.

For more about blockchain, see my article: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/blockchain-self-driving-cars-using-p2p-distributed-ledgers-bitcoin/

Maybe some clever hacker is able to create fraudulent Lancelot’s and make use of them. This means that the Lancelot’s that your child so laboriously earned are cheapened because someone else was able to make ones on their own.

Electronic Miners Hope to Find a Nonce

This then takes us to the aspects of how cryptocurrencies are generated. The primary method for the issuance of any particular cryptocurrency is via what is called electronic mining. People that believe in the cryptocurrency are able to use computers to mathematically find a nonce. Essentially, a nonce is a arduous number to find and involves a time-consuming effort and computer processing consuming effort to determine. It is used with a hashed version of a block’s content and then can be verified relatively readily by other such electronic miners, and thus allows then for a block to be added into the blockchain. So, it’s a hard number to find, but once it is found it then is relatively easy for others to confirm it.

This is considered a proof-of-work kind of system. The electronic miners that succeed in finding the nonces get rewarded by earning some of the cryptocurrency. In addition, this overall method and mathematical approach is what helps the blockchain to be considered “immutable” and “secure” – though you need to keep in mind this is often touted as an absolute, but that’s not really the case. If you had enough computer processing power, you can contend with such aspects (thus, the concerns that some have about the emergence of quantum computing and whether quantum computers might be so fast that what we consider today to be secure will not be secure in the future).

You might be thinking that you could make a lot of dough, or let’s say electronic currency, by setting up your own electronic mining capability. It’s actually very easy to do. You don’t need to necessarily even write any programming code. There are off-the-shelf apps that will do the mining on your behalf. Thus, you really don’t need any particular computer expertise per se and can pretty much get things setup as a miner and then just start mining. There’s gold in them thar hills!

But, not so fast. You would need to first buy some computers to use for the mining effort. That’s a cost for you. Or, you could rent the use of someone else’s computers, but again that’s a cost since you would need to pay for the rental usage. Thus, you need to consider the cost of the computer related equipment that will be doing the mining. There would be the initial setup costs and then any ongoing costs to keep those computers humming along and doing the mining.

What is actually the more significant cost, and somewhat surprising to many, involves the cost of the electrical power to run the computers that you are using for doing the mining. I know this seems odd. Most of us are used to plugging our computer into a wall socket and we don’t think much about the cost of the electrical power to run the computer.

In the case of the mining, you would likely want to use high-end computers that are very fast, and that are likely electrical power hogs. You’d want to use not just one such high-end computer but perhaps dozens or maybe even hundreds, if you could. The more mining, the more chances of earning that miner’s income.

Some prospective entrepreneurially minded miners originally opted to setup some computers in their home or apartment and figured that while they were at the office during the day and doing their daytime job, all of those computers at home were earning them extra “cash” by mining for a particular cryptocurrency.

When they saw the electrical power bill at the end of a month, they were shocked (there’s a pun for your day!). Between the cost of getting and maintaining the computers, along with the whopping electrical power bill, it turns out that mining wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk ROI (Return on Investment). Instead, the amount of cryptocurrency that could be earned, along with its fluctuating value, and offset by the costs of the mining effort, turns out that it was not especially profitable for some miners.

Indeed, there has been a trend of people that want to mine for cryptocurrency to find a place to live and work that happens to have low or lower electrical power costs.

The U.S. national average residential cost for a kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity Is about 7 cents. Some estimates are that to mine the typical cryptocurrency you might need to consume 215 kWh of electricity. The state of Washington has an average residential cost of 4.37 cents per kWh, which is the lowest in the nation (followed by Montana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, etc.). Thus, some miners have setup their “mining camp” in those lowest electrical cost states.

Another way to mine might be to tap into someone else’s computing and use their computers for your own purposes of mining. Assuming that the miner does so without the permission of whomever owns those computers, this is actually a type of crime known as cryptojacking.

Cryptojacking consists of making use of someone else’s computers to try and mine for cryptocurrency. The bad-hat hacker or cyber criminal would do this to avoid their own costs of doing the mining and leverage your “free” computing power for their own gain. Rather than having to deal with setting up computers and paying for the electrical power, instead the hacker somehow gets you to unwittingly provide your computers for their fiendish purpose.

When I tell people about the latest trend of cyberhacking involving cryptojacking, it is interesting that they often ask me whether the miner is “harming” the computer in doing so. In other words, they wonder whether the use of the mining will adversely impact their computer, assuming that a miner was somehow able to turn the computer into a miner for them.

Let’s start with emphasizing that the miner is stealing your computer processing for their own ends. In that sense, they are taking a kind of good or service away from you. If you own that computer, you presumably own the processing cycles available on it. If someone else is using it for free and without your permission, they are stealing something of value, whether or not you happened to be using it. I liken this to someone that takes your car at night while you are asleep. Sure, you might not be using it while you are asleep, but I think we would all agree that it is nonetheless untoward that someone is taking your car at night without your permission and using it.

Assuming that a miner has been able to coopt your computer for mining, they might do so sneakily and you would not even realize that your computer is being used for this purpose. The mining could take place whenever there are idle or available processing cycles, and meanwhile the computer seems to be working just as normal. Of course, the thief will need to get access to the computer to see what the mining results are, and so in that sense they would have to have other unfettered online access to your computer too.

The mining effort might be setup to use up a lot of your computer processing. Thus, when you try to use your computer to write that great novel or need to play some games, your computer might seem to work in a halting fashion. It could be that the mining effort is chewing up computer processing and setup as a higher priority on your computer than the other tasks that you want it to do. A sluggish or slow responding computer could be the result of the mining.

This also assumes that the miner is only interested in using your computer for mining. I don’t want you to fall into the mental trap of some that say it is a “harmless” kind of act. Keep in mind that whomever has cracked into your computer is now likely able to do other untoward acts. They might decide to ultimately do a ransomware effort on your computer, perhaps once they believe you are realizing that mining is occurring, and you are going to try and cutoff the mining.

The odds are that anyone that would be willing to break into your computer to do the mining will likely have other nefarious thoughts and acts to be played out. They might grab up your private info and try to use it for identify theft. They might do all sorts of horrendous acts, especially when they think the gig is up and it is time to move on to someone else’s computer for mining.

Anyone that somehow tries to suggest that cryptojacking is a “victimless” crime is not thinking straight. Besides the criminal act of stealing your computer processing, it is a quick and easy slippery slope of then going after other nefarious aspects of doing things to your computer and likely stealing and exploiting whatever you have on that computer.

When I refer to your computer, I not only mean a desktop computer that you might have at home, but also your laptop that you take on the road with you, and even your smartphone or tablet can all be cryptojacked.

You can consider the crytojacking to be akin to a computer virus. If your computing device gets such a computer virus on it, your computer then becomes a zombie soldier in the army of the miner.

As with any computer virus, you should have up-to-date cyber protection software running on your computing devices to hopefully prevent the cryptojacking and at least detect it if indeed your computer has gotten infected. Once infected, you’ll want to carefully take steps to have the mining virus removed and also figure out whether the miner has done anything else untoward on your computer. It can be a terrible moment of reckoning once you realize that a miner has infected your computer.

What does this have to do with AI self-driving cars?

At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI software for self-driving cars. One aspect for AI self-driving cars is the potential for them to be exploited for cryptojacking purposes.

AI Self-Driving Cars Make Attractive Targets for Cryptojackers

Let’s consider why an AI self-driving car might be an attractive target for cryptojacking.

AI self-driving cars are going to be chockfull of high-end computer processing capabilities. It takes a lot of computing to be able to handle all of the AI aspects involved in driving a car. In addition, the computers on-board the self-driving car are dealing with many other elements of the car, including its numerous subsystems for engine control, drivetrain control, etc.

The odds are too that AI self-driving cars will be filled with elaborate infotainment systems. It is anticipated that AI self-driving cars will likely be running around the clock, providing ridesharing services, and the odds are that passengers will be seeking on-board in-car entertainment during potentially lengthy rides (your daily commute to work of two hours will no longer require your attention to the driving task, and so the odds are that you might want to watch movies, maybe do online educational courses, etc.).

For my article about the non-stop use of AI self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/non-stop-ai-self-driving-cars-truths-and-consequences/

For the ridesharing aspects of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ridesharing-services-and-ai-self-driving-cars-notably-uber-in-or-uber-out/

For the affordability aspects of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/affordability-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

Thus, for a cryptocurrency miner, the computing capabilities of an AI self-driving car are quite attractive. If you could somehow load a mining virus onto the on-board system of the self-driving car, it could crank away at doing mining. This mining could happen while the AI self-driving car is perhaps parked in your garage at home and recharging. Or, it could happen while the AI self-driving car is cruising around the neighborhood or when it is on its way to a destination.

Similar to the aspects of doing mining on your smartphone or laptop, the mining activity could be purposely hidden from view. The mining virus might only tap into the computers when it figures that doing so will not otherwise undermine the operation of the self-driving car. In that sense, it can remain hidden and you might not even realize it is there.

Or, the mining might become disruptive to the on-board systems. This can have potential dire consequences. If the mining consumes processing that was supposed to be determining whether the AI self-driving car should hit its brakes or make that left turn up ahead, it could be a life-or-death kind of distraction to the AI and have terrible consequences.

There’s also the same concern that if the mining virus is actually able to do mining, it tends to suggest that the virus implant and the bad-hat hacker might be able to do other untoward acts to your AI self-driving car too. They might be able to decide where to have the AI self-driving go. Maybe they opt to use the self-driving car whenever they wish to do so. Maybe they opt to have the AI self-driving car carry out bad acts. Etc.

For more about the dangers of cybersecurity holes in AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ai-deep-learning-backdoor-security-holes-self-driving-cars-detection-prevention/

For most of the auto makers and tech firms that are developing AI self-driving cars, they consider this notion of potential cryptojacking to be an edge problem. An edge problem is a corner case or considered at the edge of the core aspects that you are trying to solve. Right now, the auto makers and tech firms are focused on getting an AI self-driving car to do the normal things that you would want a self-driving car to do, such as driving down the road and not hitting anything along the way.

For more about edge problems, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/edge-problems-core-true-self-driving-cars-achieving-last-mile/

I won’t get into a debate herein about whether or not cryptojacking is an edge problem per se.

On the one hand, there are so few AI self-driving cars as yet that it would seem somewhat unlikely that computer criminals are already plotting to use AI self-driving cars for this purpose. Furthermore, the odds are that computer criminals are aiming to use more conventional computer viruses against AI self-driving cars, and the notion of doing cryptojacking is a lot lower on their list of nefarious acts.

Also, most pundits are assuming that the AI self-driving car industry is already preparing for any kind of computer viral attack. As such, there is presumably no need to be concerned about any one particular type of such attack. Just brace the AI system to be able to detect and cope with any kind of computer virus, and therefore specific ones like the cryptojacking should get detected and stopped. At least, that’s the theory of it.

I’d like to clarify and introduce the notion that there are varying levels of AI self-driving cars. The topmost level is considered Level 5. A Level 5 self-driving car is one that is being driven by the AI and there is no human driver involved. For the design of Level 5 self-driving cars, the auto makers are even removing the gas pedal, brake pedal, and steering wheel, since those are contraptions used by human drivers. The Level 5 self-driving car is not being driven by a human and nor is there an expectation that a human driver will be present in the self-driving car. It’s all on the shoulders of the AI to drive the car.

For self-driving cars less than a Level 5, there must be a human driver present in the car. The human driver is currently considered the responsible party for the acts of the car. The AI and the human driver are co-sharing the driving task. In spite of this co-sharing, the human is supposed to remain fully immersed into the driving task and be ready at all times to perform the driving task. I’ve repeatedly warned about the dangers of this co-sharing arrangement and predicted it will produce many untoward results.

For my overall framework about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/

For the levels of self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/richter-scale-levels-self-driving-cars/

For why AI Level 5 self-driving cars are like a moonshot, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/self-driving-car-mother-ai-projects-moonshot/

For the dangers of co-sharing the driving task, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/human-back-up-drivers-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

Let’s focus herein on the true Level 5 self-driving car. Much of the comments apply to the less than Level 5 self-driving cars too, but the fully autonomous AI self-driving car will receive the most attention in this discussion.

Here’s the usual steps involved in the AI driving task:

  •         Sensor data collection and interpretation
  •         Sensor fusion
  •         Virtual world model updating
  •         AI action planning
  •         Car controls command issuance

Another key aspect of AI self-driving cars is that they will be driving on our roadways in the midst of human driven cars too. There are some pundits of AI self-driving cars that continually refer to a utopian world in which there are only AI self-driving cars on the public roads. Currently there are about 250+ million conventional cars in the United States alone, and those cars are not going to magically disappear or become true Level 5 AI self-driving cars overnight.

Indeed, the use of human driven cars will last for many years, likely many decades, and the advent of AI self-driving cars will occur while there are still human driven cars on the roads. This is a crucial point since this means that the AI of self-driving cars needs to be able to contend with not just other AI self-driving cars, but also contend with human driven cars. It is easy to envision a simplistic and rather unrealistic world in which all AI self-driving cars are politely interacting with each other and being civil about roadway interactions. That’s not what is going to be happening for the foreseeable future. AI self-driving cars and human driven cars will need to be able to cope with each other. Period.

For my article about the grand convergence that has led us to this moment in time, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/grand-convergence-explains-rise-self-driving-cars/

See my article about the ethical dilemmas facing AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ethically-ambiguous-self-driving-cars/

For potential regulations about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/

For my predictions about AI self-driving cars for the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/gen-z-and-the-fate-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

Returning to the topic of cryptojacking, let’s consider some additional facets about this potential malady.

First, you might be wondering how would the mining virus somehow work its way into the on-board systems of the AI self-driving car. Turns out that there are various opportunities for an infection to gain entry and spread within an AI self-driving car.

Plugging Into the AI Self-Driving Car for No Good

One approach would be for someone to get physically into the AI self-driving car and plug-in a dongle into the OBD-II port. This would be relatively easy to do in that if your AI self-driving car is available for ridesharing purposes, a nefarious person could simply book a ride and then plug in the dongle. This is why I’ve previously called for either disabling the OBD-II port or adding hefty security capabilities to it and its use.

For my article about privacy and AI self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/privacy-ai-self-driving-cars/

If you’ve ever seen the ads by Progressive Insurance and other car insurers, you’ve perhaps seen that they offer a discounted insurance rate if you are willing to allow them to track your driving usage. They do so by having you plug-in a dongle into the OBD-II port that usually sits just under the dashboard of your car. Via the port, the dongle is able to collect driving related data and can electronically transmit it to the insurer (or, collect the data onto the dongle and then have you physically provide the dongle back to the insurer).

The OBD-II port not only allows for collecting data from the car, but you can also use it as an input into other allied subsystems of the car. Thus, a miner with a dongle that has a pre-loaded infectious mining program could potentially slip the virus into your AI self-driving car. Presumably, hopefully, the various on-board systems security systems would detect and prevent this from happening, but its an ongoing cat-and-mouse game as the hackers find new ways to break through security screening.

Another method of infection could be via the use of the Internet of Things (IoT). As I’ve mentioned previously, the odds are that AI self-driving cars will have a slew of IoT devices. Some of the IoT devices will be included by the auto maker or tech firm that makes the AI self-driving car. Some of the IoT devices will be provided by third parties as add-on capabilities for your AI self-driving car. And, of course people getting into the AI self-driving car will likely have IoT devices on them or with them, which will also be communicating with your AI self-driving car.

A bad-hat hacker might load-up an IoT device that otherwise seems legitimate and yet has a cryptocurrency mining element on it. This IoT device then comes in contact with your AI self-driving car and perhaps has some clever means of infusing itself into the on-board systems.

Another approach of infection could be via the OTA (Over The Air) capability. AI self-driving cars are equipped with an electronic communication for uploading data from the self-driving car into the cloud of the auto maker or tech firm. This OTA also allows for pushing down into the AI self-driving car the latest patches and updates of the AI software. If a bad-hat actor could somehow plant the mining tool into the OTA patches or updates, it could ride like a Trojan Horse into the guts of the AI self-driving car system.

As was widely reported in the media earlier this year, a bounty hunter “white hat” security firm discovered that Tesla had some of their Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud instances infected with a cryptocurrency miner (here’s one such reporting about the incident: https://www.wired.com/story/cryptojacking-tesla-amazon-cloud/ ). Tesla indicated that it was confined to only their internally-used engineering test cars and otherwise had no material impact.

One aspect worth noting is that miners especially look to hide their mining activity by trying to target large companies rather than someone’s individual at-home PC, since the odds are that the added use of computing and the added electrical power consumption will not be noticed by a large firm and also they can tap into a lot of processing power all at once.

In any case, beyond the means noted in this discussion, there are even additional potential points of entry that a computer virus can potentially make its way into an AI self-driving car. The auto makers and tech firms need to be mindful of the importance of systems security and provide robust protections accordingly.

For more about OTA, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/air-ota-updating-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about IoT and AI self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/internet-of-things-iot-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about API’s and AI self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/apis-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the appearance of “ghosts” in AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ghosts-in-ai-self-driving-cars/

In theory, the AI self-driving car should have sufficient protections to prevent a cryptojacking virus from getting into the on-board systems. But, suppose somehow that one managed to wean its way in. What then?

The AI of the self-driving car needs to have sufficient self-awareness to realize that the cryptojacking is embedded and running. Doing so involves performing various internal systems checks to be assured that what is running on-board is what is intended to be running. Also, the Operating System (OS) used for the AI self-driving car needs to be savvy enough to be judging the load balancing of the processors and making sure that some unknown “hog” is not needlessly chewing up processing cycles.

See Chapter 6 on “System Load Balancing for AI Self-Driving Cars” in my book entitled ““Leading Edge Trends for AI Driverless Cars”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692042407

For debugging of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/debugging-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the freezing up of an AI self-driving car, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/freezing-robot-problem-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

Imagine a cryptojacking that might somehow be able to get implanted into a multitude of AI self-driving cars, perhaps an entire fleet, all of which might be then used for mining by the bad-hat actor. Assuming that the bad-hat thief does nothing else nefarious (unlikely!), just envision the huge amount of processing capability that could be used for mining. Breathtaking!

On a related topic, let’s turn around on this illegal cryptojacking notion and consider the other side of the proverbial coin, namely a legitimate version of mining. Suppose you owned an AI self-driving car and you wanted to intentionally use it for doing cryptocurrency mining. The processors on-board are your processors, so why shouldn’t you be able to leverage their availability?

Sure, you would not want the mining to inadvertently undermine the processing needed by the AI to drive the self-driving car. As such, you would want this to be done in a very methodical and calculated way. The AI self-driving car would need to have a capability to make use of the “available” processing, such as when the self-driving car is at idle or maybe parked in your garage at home. Otherwise, it would allow the processors to be used for things that are benign, assuming that the mining software you use is well-contained and well-behaved.

When I mention this possibility at AI self-driving car industry events during my presentations, you can imagine the collective groan that comes from the AI developers there. What, we have to now add to the AI self-driving car a feature to allow the processors to be used for something other than driving the car? Are you crazy? We have our hands full just being able to get the AI to drive the car. Also, they rightfully have concerns that the mining might go astray and detract from the AI driving task.

I realize that the idea of using the on-board processing for anything other than the necessary aspects of driving the AI self-driving car is rather hard to envisage right now. Until we have perfected AI self-driving cars and have had them working appropriately, trying to put any time or attention toward a rather ancillary aspect as leveraging the processing cycles seems wholly unimaginable.

I’d bet though that eventually there will be a sense of stability that will then open the possibility of harnessing the incredible “extra” processing power of the AI self-driving cars. At that future time, some enterprising owners of AI self-driving cars will likely begin to think about how else they can possibly make money from their AI self-driving car, beyond using it as a ridesharing service.

There are also going to be some people that might be thinking beyond the money-making side of things. For those of you that have ever aided the search for extraterrestrial intelligence via the SETI program, you likely know about the free program that you can download onto your home computer and use it to help analyze radio telescope signals. When I tell people about this aspect, they at first think it seems kind of nutty. Does this mean that you have to believe in Martians and little green men? No, it is just a fun and interesting way to contribute toward the search for what might be on other planets.

In that sense, you could use the available processing time of your AI self-driving car to help find intelligent life somewhere else in our universe. Though that might seem somewhat farfetched as a reason to use the extra processing capability, the point is that beyond just using the processing for possibly mining of electronic currency, you could potentially use that processing for lots of other purposes, some worthwhile and some perhaps a bit out-there.

There are numerous mathematical puzzles that are starving for computer processing time to be solved. As well, there are lots of Machine Learning (ML) aspects that require gobs of processing time. You could potentially use an AI self-driving car for those purposes. You might even join with friends that also have AI self-driving cars and you all agree to each make use of your respective AI self-driving cars for some in-common endeavor.

For ensemble ML, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ensemble-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For benchmarks of ML, see my article: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/machine-learning-benchmarks-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about federated ML, see: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/federated-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

It is also notable to consider that with an entire fleet of AI self-driving cars, the collective “extra” computational processing could be substantive, and especially too if you were to consider this processing available at differing magnitudes throughout a 24×7 non-stop period of time. As mentioned before, the potential for this use must also be balanced by the amount of energy consumed, along with ensuring that the AI self-driving cars are able to carry out their primary function unabated.

Will your AI self-driving car become a slave to a cryptocurrency miner? Let’s hope not. Could you possibly use your AI self-driving car’s processing capabilities to provide some kind of added service beyond being just a self-driving car? Maybe so, though likely far off in the future. For now, let’s focus on keeping those nefarious crypto miners from undermining AI self-driving cars and make sure that we put in place sufficient cyber security guards that the bad-hats won’t be able to setup camp in your self-driving car. That’s a triumphant accomplishment that is worthy of a loudly proclaimed Eureka!

Copyright 2018 Dr. Lance Eliot

This content is originally posted on AI Trends.


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