Driving has always been scary, from trying to keep your Model T right side up to holding your Ferrari below 200 mph. Now you have something new to keep you up at night: People have learned to hack into your cars and take control.
When I say “we,” I really mean “some of you,” because the hacking has, so far, been confined to Fiat Chrysler vehicles. Last week, the multinational company recalled some Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs, Chrysler 200 and 300 and Dodge Charger sedans, Dodge Challenger coupes, Ram pickups and Viper sports cars.
Being recalled are the ones with 8.4-inch touchscreens on the dashboard, because this glitch is all about computers. A couple of men recently took control, remotely, of a Cherokee through its digital radio, and Chrysler didn’t merely jump; it asked, “How high?”
That’s because the worst thing it can do to attract buyers to the showroom is to have somebody in the next town take over your car and run it off a cliff. (Actually, that would result in repeat sales, but not with the same manufacturer and only if you survived.)
Again, you will notice that I said “you” and not “we,” because not even the head bartender at the Apple Genius Bar would be able to hack into my old SUV. Manufactured 14 years and 166,608 miles ago — 268,129 kilometers looks so much more impressive — it is no more susceptible to computer high jinks than it is West Nile virus. Its most sophisticated component is its CD player, which works except when the weather is humid. In our area, that is most of the time, and so the CD will eject itself and leave me with radio alone (but both AM and FM, so I’m not completely a country bumpkin).
To be fair to Bob, which I have called my cars — only three in the past 38 years (the last one was still running strong at 233,461 miles) — humidity doesn’t leave me totally high and dry. That’s because the one option I specified when I ordered Bob III was a cassette player. I didn’t even specify a certain paint color, but I did insist on the tape player.
Nor have I discarded my CDs and adopted music streaming. Baby steps for Bob.
So, let the hackers do their worst. I’d like to see some computer nerd commandeer Side A of a Springsteen tape and switch it to Side B while I’m driving. Good luck, pal!
While they’re at it, let the government monitor our phone calls. Maybe it will help us mind our telephone etiquette, like when the teacher ordains a student to take the names of talkers when she has to step out of the classroom. I have nothing to hide.
And finally, let the traitors release secret documents and then change their gender or flee to Russia to escape the law. I’m comfortable in my skin and have no passport.
Bob and I have too many miles on us to care.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.