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How Autonomous Drones Will Revolutionize Black Market Smuggling

TsaiSep 24, 2016, 12:49:06 AM

As we enter into the age of autonomous machines, it is important to not only consider the impact this will have on normal everyday society, but also the impact it will have on crime. 

According to Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, Tesla's autonomous self-driving car is only one or two years away from reality, and Elon Musk is a man who has a consistent track record of delivering on big promises. As of today, Tesla vehicles already have self-driving capabilities on highways and most traffic conditions, and under these conditions, their safety record is on par with if not better than the average human (and yes, this includes the one fatality where the Tesla owner got so overconfident in the technology that he kicked back, relaxed, and started watching a movie!) Tesla Motors isn't the only company working on autonomous self-driving technology. Google has been developing the Self-Driving car since 2005, and expects to have the technology ready by 2020 - just four years away.

So how will criminals take advantage of this technology? 

Let's consider a service like Uber. The Uber app connects someone who needs a ride to someone who has a ride. In the future, you will be able to register your autonomous, self-driving car with services like Uber, and make money on the side when you're not using your car. Now imagine that the black market has come up with an 'Uber' app that allows users to register anonymously and pay fares using bitcoin. This 'Uber' app also allows you to make deliveries. You choose where you want to drop off the goods, and your customer chooses where to pick up the goods. 

Now let's imagine you're a weed-smoking gun-enthusiast. And hey, I'm not judging. This doesn't mean you're a bad person. You're just somebody whose interests just so happen to be illegal. Now let's say you're also technology savvy, so you know how to navigate the Dark Web using TOR in order to protect your online activities from scrutiny. Let's say you also have a lot of bitcoins because you got into the game early and did a lot of mining.

You enter a 'reputable' black market website and make a purchase of one ounce of marijuana and a couple of Kalashnikovs using your bitcoins. The black market website will facilitate the transaction by acting as a trusted third-party that will hold onto your bitcoins until you receive your order.

The black market vendor whose products you just purchased anonymously hires an autonomous Uber car and loads the goods into the car. You receive a notification that the goods have been loaded, and now you must select a pick-up destination. You choose to pick up the goods in the parking lot of a mall in a neighbouring town.

The next day, you recieve notification that the Uber car is about to arrive. You go to the mall parking lot and wait for it. As always, the Uber car arrives on time. You load the goods into your car, and then you drive home. The black market website releases your bitcoins to the black market vendor after passing the bitcoins through some mechanism that makes tracing the blockchains back to your wallet near-impossible.

Now imagine you're a cop.     

What points of weaknesses can you identify that would allow you to crackdown on this underground network?

What happens when engineers develop an ultra high-energy density battery that makes it possible to develop large, autonomous, flying drones that can stay in the air for several hours while hauling cargo? Are you going to shoot down every flying drone you see that's carrying a package? Will you deploy your own drones to hunt down suspicious drones carrying suspicious packages, some of which may be bombs?

Now imagine you're a lawmaker.    

What laws would you pass to prevent the scenario described above?    

Now imagine you're an ordinary citizen living in a totalitarian state.

The economy is in shambles. Price controls, hyper-regulation, and rationing has become the norm. Everywhere you go, store shelves are empty. The only place where you can buy anything is on the black market. How might the black market save you and your family from starving in this nighmare scenario?   

I explore all these questions and more in my dystopian science fiction novel, The Moral Foundation. To read the prologue, please type 'Welcome To Mars Expo 2065' in the searchbox (I would include a link, but links to Minds posts don't always work for some reason).

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