New Predictions for Cybercrime


Raconteur isn’t our go-to source for industrial motion control news, but a new article there is suggesting that automation will be hitting crime next.

“As the workforce moves towards more automation, we could find 35 per cent of jobs now done by humans have been replaced by robots,” runs a quote from Tracey Follows, chief strategy and innovation officer at The Future Laboratory.

Cameron Brown, described by Raconteur as “an independent cyber defence adviser,” told the online magazine that low risk and potentially high income opportunities “will propel the disenfranchised and those in lower income bands to pursue a life of crime.”

Put the two trends together and what do you get? Automated crime.

“Futurists have been forecasting a sharp rise in lone-wolf terror attacks for years. But once robots can be hacked to become suicide-bombing machines, lone-robot attacks could become rife too,” Follows predicted. “My forecast would be that by 2040 more crime will be committed by machines than by humans.”

Hijacking and reprogramming of drones and self-driving cars offers plenty of room for mayhem, but what about industrial robots?

AI researchers from Google, Stanford, and Berkeley delivered a paper over the summer that speculated on the safety issues that could be faced with robots. This paper dealt with accidents: for example, a robot cleaner using harsh chemicals in factory could encounter a dog and treat it just as it did the machinery. But it also calls for preemptive study on the possibility that human criminals could train AI systems to commit crimes.

Industrial robots are dangerous, and many freak accidents with industrial machinery have proven that machines can kill people. These are all accidents… but could the future hold industrial machinery programmed for crime?

If so, safety engineering will need a big boost. But we question whether we’d really be looking at robot criminals. We think there would still have to be Bond-style villains pulling the strings, or configuring the parameters.


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