Should Tesla be allowed to remove features from a vehicle that’s bought secondhand?
This is a troubling issue where we rely on software for every feature of consumer products. Software that can be updated to add features can also be downgraded to remove features.
Years ago, Amazon deleted e-book copies of George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Apparently Amazon did not have the distribution rights signed up correctly and customers who had bought the e-book addition discovered Amazon remotely deleted their copy of the book. (Amazon did refund the purchase price). That this was a giant corporation removing, of all things, 1984, was a bit of a shock to many.
Meanwhile, the FAA has proposed a massive, Rube Goldberg-like regulatory scheme for small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS), also known as remote control model aircraft. The FAA envisions a world where all model aircraft regulations are enforced by software, logging their position with government designated Internet databases, once every second during flight – rather than the traditional trust and enforcement mechanisms of all other laws. There are multiple issues with the FAA’s proposal, but one side effect of their attempt to enforce the law via software is they’ve managed to eliminate essentially all indoor flight by model airplanes and quadcopter – because a one-size fits all rule does not work. They’ve also created a monster that would enable automated drone fleets – and consumer drones – to be enlisted by foreign adversaries in international espionage, permitting – indeed, encouraging – all drones to collect aerial imagery and other data as they fly over our homes and cities.