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AI Autonomous Vehicles As Drug Mules For Narco Sellers Is A Dangerous Prescription – AI Developments

Creator Lance Eliot considers whether or not AI self-driving vehicles could possibly be used as narco mules within the illicit drug commerce, and ponders methods to defeat the scheme. (Picture by the blowup on Unsplash)

By Lance Eliot, the AI Developments Insider

The variety of methods to move unlawful medication appears to be almost countless. All of us have heard about using airplanes to smuggle in illicit medication. There are additionally tales aplenty about motorboats and sailboats loaded with banned narcotics that attempt to attain land.

Right here’s a twist that you simply won’t have thought-about. A current information story described a narco mini-submarine that was scuttled in shallow waters after three males working the vessel opted to evacuate and escape as authorities had been closing in on them. Reportedly containing an estimated $100 million in cocaine, hypothesis is that the crew won’t have identified for positive that the gig was up, and selected to open the valves to sink the narco-sub as a precaution to try to cover the three metric tons of unlawful medication (figuring they may at all times come again to retrieve the loot, plus they could save their very own lives by having the ability to present to the drug lord that the stuff was nonetheless intact and had not been siphoned off or pilfered).

I used to be requested by some readers whether or not we’d in the end have Autonomous Automobiles (AVs) that will probably be employed for legal trafficking acts, doing so by eradicating the human ingredient concerned in driving or in any other case guiding a craft that comprises a bootleg drug cargo.

Sadly, sure, this may be anticipated and to a point is already underway, together with the nefarious use of autonomous submersibles, autonomous water floor craft similar to sailboats and motorized ships, autonomous drones that fly within the air, and naturally using ground-based autonomous transportation similar to self-driving vehicles.

Not solely will a specific mode of AV be used, similar to within the air, within the water, or on the bottom, you may guess your backside greenback that there will probably be devious efforts combining these avenues, a trifecta because it had been.

Although all of us want to consider technological improvements similar to self-driving vehicles as being constructed and fielded for helpful functions and striving towards the nice of humanity, there isn’t a sense in hiding from the inevitable indisputable fact that these marvels will probably be stridently used for untoward goals too.

Dangerous folks will do dangerous issues, even with the best advances in AI.

Let’s think about why using self-driving vehicles could be alluring to drug trafficking after which ponder ways in which this may be mitigated or defeated.

On a associated observe, some argue that nobody ought to talk about these issues as it is going to merely give dreadful thieves some new concepts of what to do. It is a traditional dilemma that confronts the pc subject (and different realms) on a regular basis. For instance, within the cybersecurity realm, some attempt to recommend that analysis about cracking pc methods shouldn’t be revealed and nor mentioned at conferences. Preserve all of it below tight wraps, they are saying.

However the proverbial head-in-the-sand method is actually fatally flawed in that the crooks will a technique or one other uncover or discover out the newest break-in practices, after which we are going to all be caught flat footed by not having correctly ready for that eventuality. Usually, inside cheap limits, it tends to make sense to carry these subjects into the open and thus enhance consciousness total, aiming to successfully deal with legal habits.

Right here, then, is at the moment’s intriguing query: Will the arrival of AI-based true self-driving vehicles probably be utilized in opposed methods together with turning into narco mules within the illicit drug commerce?

Let’s unpack the matter and see.

For my framework about AI autonomous vehicles, see the hyperlink right here:

Why it is a moonshot effort, see my clarification right here:

For extra in regards to the ranges as a sort of Richter scale, see my dialogue right here:

For the argument about bifurcating the degrees, see my clarification right here:

Understanding The Ranges Of Self-Driving Vehicles

As a clarification, true self-driving vehicles are ones that the AI drives the automotive solely by itself and there isn’t any human help in the course of the driving job. These driverless automobiles are thought-about a Degree 4 and Degree 5, whereas a automotive that requires a human driver to co-share the driving effort is often thought-about at a Degree 2 or Degree 3. The vehicles that co-share the driving job are described as being semi-autonomous, and usually include quite a lot of automated add-on’s which can be known as ADAS (Superior Driver-Help Methods). There’s not but a real self-driving automotive at Degree 5. We don’t but even know if this will probably be attainable to realize, and nor how lengthy it is going to take to get there.

In the meantime, the Degree 4 efforts are progressively making an attempt to get some traction by present process very slim and selective public roadway trials, although there’s controversy over whether or not this testing ought to be allowed per se (we’re all life-or-death guinea pigs in an experiment happening on our highways and byways, some contend).

Since semi-autonomous vehicles require a human driver, the adoption of these varieties of vehicles gained’t be markedly totally different than driving standard automobiles, so there’s not a lot new to cowl about them on this matter (although, as you’ll see in a second, the factors subsequent made are typically relevant).

For semi-autonomous vehicles, it’s important that the general public must be forewarned a few disturbing facet that’s been arising recently, specifically that regardless of these human drivers that maintain posting movies of themselves falling asleep on the wheel of a Degree 2 or Degree 3 automotive, all of us must keep away from being misled into believing that the driving force can take away their consideration from the driving job whereas driving a semi-autonomous automotive.

You’re the accountable occasion for the driving actions of the car, no matter how a lot automation may be tossed right into a Degree 2 or Degree 3.

For why distant piloting or working of self-driving vehicles is mostly eschewed, see my clarification right here:

To be cautious of pretend information about self-driving vehicles, see my suggestions right here:

The moral implications of AI driving methods are important, see my indication right here:

Pay attention to the pitfalls of normalization of deviance in terms of self-driving vehicles, right here’s my name to arms: 

Self-Driving Vehicles And Drug Trafficking Mules

For Degree 4 and Degree 5 true self-driving automobiles, there gained’t be a human driver concerned within the driving job. All occupants will probably be passengers. The AI is doing the driving.

First, ponder the presumed benefit of not having a human driver when making an attempt to move unlawful medication.

When utilizing human drivers, there’s at all times the likelihood that the driving force will determine to abscond with the loot. They may drive the automotive to a secret rendezvous and promote the medication to somebody apart from the meant receiver of the cache. Or perhaps the driving force does the massive change, whereby they change the actual medication with another fakery, after which seem to ship the meant medication to the designated vacation spot.

One other chance is that the driving force will get taken over by another person that needs to steal the medication, getting killed, or kidnapped within the course of. Moreover, another driver would possibly take their place and both ditch the car after eradicating the medication or might faux to be the unique driver and go to the supply location as deliberate. There are many double-crossing tips that may be performed.

There’s additionally the on a regular basis type of probability {that a} driver would possibly do one thing unwisely out-of-step. Suppose the driving force decides to get drunk after which smashes the automotive right into a phone pole, bringing forth the cops and getting stupidly caught. One supposes {that a} driver could possibly be sober and nonetheless nonetheless get right into a automotive accident, as soon as once more probably exposing the plot. It looks like we ceaselessly hear studies of drivers that roll via a cease signal, ignoring the lawful guidelines of driving, and end-up with a police officer pulling them over, resulting in the invention of tons of prohibited medication within the car.

Briefly, human drivers for partaking in unlawful drug trafficking are a substantive downside for these within the enterprise of drug trafficking. You see, it’s a lot tougher than it appears when making an attempt to be a profitable drug lord, although we ought to not shed a tear over such woes.

What might be executed about these dastardly unreliable and double-crossing drivers? Exchange them with AI.

Envision it this manner. A self-driving automotive is stocked with forbidden medication. The overseer then instructs the AI driving system to proceed on a journey to a specific vacation spot. The AI dutifully begins driving the automotive and can indubitably arrive on the stipulated location. No human driver is concerned.

Your preliminary response may be that the AI ought to be “sensible sufficient” to comprehend that it’s being utilized in a drug hauling operation, performing as a veritable drug mule.

Take into account that at the moment’s AI shouldn’t be sentient. We aren’t even near reaching sentience. Moreover, AI at present lacks any semblance of common sense reasoning. All in all, in case you are wishing that the AI will know proper from unsuitable, that could be a quite farfetched dream that regrettably doesn’t but exist and will probably be a very long time coming earlier than turning into actuality (maybe sometime).

On this use case, the AI for a self-driving automotive goes to do as instructed, which might merely be the act of driving from level A to level B.

Plus, the contents housed inside the car shouldn’t be one thing of significance for the AI.

It doesn’t particularly matter whether or not individuals are contained in the self-driving automotive, apart from the necessity to try to preserve a clean experience similar to not taking tight turns if there are passengers on-board.

I’ve exhorted extensively that we’re going to witness seemingly empty self-driving vehicles a lot of the time since there’s prone to be a hotly aggressive panorama of roaming self-driving vehicles. Fleet house owners are hoping that their self-driving automotive will probably be extra prone to get chosen for ride-sharing than some competing ones and thus might want to maintain their autonomous automobiles wandering in anticipation of being in the precise place on the proper time for a paid carry request.

Therefore, the purpose is that you simply might need been considering that certainly an in any other case empty self-driving automotive (having hidden medication) will probably be readily noticed, and somebody would detain the car. Nope. The cruising round of empty self-driving vehicles will grow to be a customary apply. Immediately, all of us will surely stare in awe and utter amazement however after hundreds upon hundreds of self-driving vehicles on our streets and highways, seeing them zipping back-and-forth with nobody inside will probably be thought-about routine and ostensibly boring.

Admittedly, onerous to think about.

In any case, a self-driving automotive that’s “empty” doesn’t essentially should be certainly bereft of one thing inside it. Although there won’t be folks inside a self-driving automotive, there might be any type of cargo or different parts (for instance, you would possibly ship your loved one pet canine over to the vet, alone inside a self-driving automotive).

A self-driving automotive could possibly be full of birthday items that you simply received in your greatest buddy that lives throughout city, and also you need the AI to drive these over to your buddy’s home.

In principle, the gap doesn’t make a distinction both.

Suppose you might have some treasured objects similar to jewels, and also you suppose it unsafe to ship them by way of common mail or in a single day courier from Los Angeles to your aunt in New York. Presumably, you may place them right into a self-driving automotive and merely give the AI an handle in New York Metropolis because the vacation spot. Away the car goes, on a cross-country trek, and the one stops wanted could be to get gasoline. Notice that there aren’t any stops for getting meals, no want for relaxation breaks, and so forth.

Okay, so we’ve established that self-driving vehicles are undeniably helpful as a drug mule since there isn’t a human driver wanted and the AI won’t essentially suspect that something is afoot. The AI will, with none presumed hesitation, drive to the specified vacation spot. It could appear that we’ve eliminated any qualms about double-crossing and different problems with the driving force doing one thing silly whereas driving.

The expectation is that self-driving vehicles will drive strictly by the guide, because it had been, and by no means step out of line by way of driving illegally. This, then, shoots down the probabilities of the self-driving automotive getting pulled over for operating a cease signal or dashing via a purple mild.

You possibly can cover the medication someplace contained in the self-driving automotive. Perhaps place the medication into bins and put these inside the traditional inside of the car, although maybe that’s quite chancy and would possibly appeal to undue consideration. As an alternative, the medication could possibly be positioned into the trunk or inside the construction of the car. Keep in mind the well-known scene of (spoiler alert) Gene Hackman looking for medication within the film French Connection?

The medication could possibly be utterly out-of-sight whereas someplace embedded inside the self-driving automotive. One would possibly view this as a helpful precaution, in case anyone by some means decides to cease the self-driving automotive and take a fast look inside it.

That may be a little bit of a teaser.

Up till this level within the dialogue, it positive looks like a self-driving automotive is an ideal technique to transport illicit medication. We have to think about how this won’t be fairly so excellent for a criminal offense.

For extra particulars about ODDs, see my indication at this hyperlink right here:

On the subject of off-road self-driving vehicles, right here’s my particulars elicitation:

I’ve urged that there have to be a Chief Security Officer at self-driving automotive makers, right here’s the news:

Anticipate that lawsuits are going to progressively grow to be a major a part of the self-driving automotive trade, see my explanatory particulars right here:

Mitigating Elements Of The Mule Crime

Life is rarely simple, not even for lawbreakers. We’ll begin with the maybe greatest hurdle for somebody utilizing a self-driving automotive on this evil method. Do you belief the self-driving automotive?

I do know that looks like an odd query. From a trusted perspective, I’m not referring as to if the AI will drive the automotive safely. We’re all just about making a base assumption that the one method that we’ll all be permitting self-driving vehicles on our streets is because of a presumption that they’ll drive as safely or much more so than human drivers. That’s a given. These are the desk stakes for self-driving vehicles.

Right here’s why a drug lord may be queasy about utilizing a self-driving automotive.

AI is operating the car. That is primarily unseen mechanization. For a human driver, the overseer presumably is aware of who the particular person is that’s doing the driving. There might be strain dropped at bear on that particular person to verify they drive the medication to the precise locale. Moreover, to a point, one can assume that the driving force will attempt to defend the cargo (assuming they’re following the letter of their orders).

Within the case of the AI driving system, it doesn’t have any such equal motives nor comparable strain factors. With a human driver, somebody sworn to loyalty would possibly veer off the trail and do one thing the overseer dislikes. This isn’t fairly the identical for AI.

Whoever is the fleet operator of the AI driving system can typically decide to divert the self-driving automotive or in some method search to take over the driving features (type of). This may be executed by way of digital communications to the self-driving automotive, similar to by way of using OTA (Over-The-Air) messaging between the cloud of the fleet proprietor (or an automaker or self-driving tech agency) and the AI driving system.

Suppose {that a} self-driving automotive is nearing an space that has grow to be flooded by a hurricane. The fleet proprietor (or comparable) would possibly ship a message to all their self-driving vehicles to keep away from getting mired within the flooded streets, as such, this would possibly embody not having the ability to then proceed to a chosen vacation spot in that neighborhood. Maybe the self-driving vehicles will probably be diverted to a ready space, or come to a halt on a facet road and look ahead to the flood to recede, or perhaps the sender will probably be requested the place the car ought to go in its place vacation spot.

The purpose is that this type of overarching management is one thing the overseer may be leery of.

Except they by some means can get entry to the grasp management level, there’s at all times an opportunity that the self-driving automotive won’t end-up going the place they presume the AI goes to take the car. That’s a unfastened finish, for positive. The identical could possibly be stated of a human driver, however as talked about earlier, the human driver might be extra readily bullied.

One other concern is the traceability features.

Presumably, the AI driving system is maintaining monitor of the place it’s and the place it’s going. That is prone to be shared with the fleet proprietor cloud system (or comparable).

Additionally, the sensors of the self-driving automotive embody video cameras, radar, LIDAR, ultrasonic, thermal, and different such units, all of that are probably recording no matter they detect across the car. In prior columns, I’ve touted that this gives a helpful roving eye for some helpful functions, although it additionally raises critical privateness intrusion issues.

It’s conceivable that this tracing functionality could possibly be used to seize the crooks concerned in endeavor the unlawful drug transport effort. That being stated, they could strive numerous methods to keep away from getting snagged in that method.

Yet one more subject for these dangerous actors is that with no human driver there’s primarily no probability of high-speed pursuit and escape. If the police verify that the self-driving automotive might need medication, it will likely be a comparatively simple matter of getting the self-driving automotive dropped at a cease, and no want for these wild and harmful vehicles to chase.

Suppose too that another person who can also be a criminal finds out in regards to the self-driving automotive being a mule, they usually wish to steal the medication. They may probably wait alongside the route of the self-driving automotive, and in terms of a cease signal or purple mild, try to interrupt into the car, maybe switching off the engine and hauling away the deadened automotive or leaping inside to seek for after which leap out with the medication in-hand.

You would possibly contend that the drug overseer might deal with these points by placing their very own crew contained in the self-driving automotive to guard the hidden medication inside. Aha, in the event you did that, as soon as once more there are people in the course of the caper. As such, there’s a tradeoff as as to if having people current versus no people current rears its head once more.

Splitting hairs, you may argue that by having a non-driving crew that the scenario is assuredly totally different from having a crew member that’s doing the driving. Additionally, there’s the complicating issue of whether or not the passengers are conscious of what the car is carrying, or they may be unwitting accomplices.

Yet one more angle is the possibility of somebody hacking the AI to subvert what the AI is meant to do. This would possibly allow a cyber criminal to merely alter the vacation spot to their very own most well-liked handle. In principle, that is hopefully going to be very unbelievable because it additionally opens a can of worms for these of us that will probably be utilizing self-driving vehicles on an peculiar on a regular basis foundation (see my column postings for particulars in regards to the cybersecurity aspects of self-driving vehicles, together with robo-jacking).

Plenty of permutations and combos ensue.


Generally, folks upon listening to about this drug mule situation involving self-driving vehicles are fast to say that we must have the police or different authorities monitoring the AI driving methods. This is able to apparently by some means allow the authorities to try to determine these illicit visitors actions.

Now that’s a whale of a Pandora’s field.

There’s a slew of AI ethics issues that come together with that type of permitted routine monitoring. In an period that has all of us frequently utilizing AI-based true self-driving vehicles, will we really feel comfy that our each journey and transfer is probably being seen and tracked by our authorities?

I’ve beforehand emphasised that there are nation-states which can be going to welcome the arrival of self-driving vehicles for that very purpose. It stays to be seen whether or not a free nation would discover it justifiable as a possible means to detect or curtail the opposed makes use of of self-driving vehicles.

Time will inform.

Copyright 2021 Dr. Lance Eliot. This content material is initially posted on AI Developments.

[Ed. Note: For reader’s interested in Dr. Eliot’s ongoing business analyses about the advent of self-driving cars, see his online Forbes column:] site

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