Learn about the ways in which robots can be hacked

Cybersecurity in robotics often boils down to: Should we be worried about autonomous cars being hacked? The answer to that is simple: Hell, yes! And it is not just autonomous cars that we should be worried about; remember the Iranian SCADA-controlled robotic centrifuges that were enriching uranium and then, thanks to the stuxnet worm, suddenly spun themselves to pieces?  Robots present many vectors for attack and objectives for the attack. The sensors can be hacked, either to see what the robot is seeing, to substitute different readings (like the bus camera video loop in Speed), or to distort or poison the sensor readings (which should then cause the robot to behave badly or misidentify objects)- a great example is the glitter spray in Almost Human. GPS spoofing is a famous example where robots suddenly navigate to the wrong location. Another objective is to directly take control of the robot by taking over either the onboard control software or the software on the operator control unit. Signal jamming is another objective— cause the robot to do bad things or have to fail to a safe state (like a drone would return home) because it has lost communications (if it the software is distributed onboard and offboard). Software updates can introduce bugs (which fortunately gave Murderbot its autonomy to be delightfully snarky, though the idea that robots could use bugs to self-modify its code violates bounded rationality.

October 23, 2018

Recommendation: If you have a low tolerance for GameLit, you may want to skip this book-- but you’d be missing a smorgasbord of interesting ideas about AI and robotics and the opportunity to learn about computer vision.

The Robots of Gotham is a highly rated GameLit adv...

October 5, 2018

Robots: humanoids, tanks, drones, appliances

Recommendation: If you’ve read the other MurderBot diary entries, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t, start with All Systems Red, as the series needs to be read in order. 

Martha Wells completes the wildly entertaining M...

September 29, 2018

Recommendation: Find this and watch the salt and pepper detectives deal with predicate calculus, Internet of Things, and computer vision in a RoboCup meets Blade Runner universe.

Almost Human is set in a near future where the social fabric of civilization has frayed int...

July 18, 2018

Robots: service ‘bots, drones, humanoids

Recommendation: Get it! The good news is that there is no sophomore slump, volume 2 of The MurderBot Diaries is as fun as the first one. So reading it is not murdering time, it’s a stay-cation!

MurderBot is back in time for summer...

February 21, 2016

Robots: Androids, robot horses and rattlesnakes.

What it gets right about robotics: perception and the use of affordances, the manpower it takes to keep complex robots in operation, computer viruses

Recommended watching: Stop what you are doing and watch this movie now!...

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