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For decades, films like Minority Report and Robocop and Theodore Rex have trained us to fear the future of crime and law enforcement. As criminals become more sophisticated and technologically savvy, the only way to stop them will be invulnerable robots who also have deep emotions. But will police precincts have the necessary budget to buy any of those things? Aluminum may be cheaper, but it’s probably not enough to stop a future thief’s laser cannon.
Thankfully, lasers and police androids with crippling emotional problems are still a ways off (probably), but that doesn’t mean crime in the near-future isn’t about to get insane.
Malware Could Spread Like The Common Cold, Killing Humans
These days, practically every device in existence is somehow connected to the internet. Hell, they’ve created a freaking surfboard that simultaneously surfs the waves and the ’net at the same time, baby. But what if one day you shred the gnar so hard you impale your heart on a swordfish—could you get a Wi-Fi connected aortic valve? Well, yeah, sort of.
Many patients these days now receive pacemakers with built-in Wi-Fi to help track their vitals and will alert doctors if anything is awry or they’ve caught a particularly dope swell or whatever. The bad news is that criminals can now straight up hack your heart more easily than Jennifer from fourth grade.
Already there was an instance back in 2017 where a company recalled some 500,000 pacemakers due to hacking fears. And although I’m already working on a script titled Cardiac Repo Man about a guy who forcibly removes the hearts of clients who fall behind on their payments, it turns out that a “recall” in this instance just meant remotely “updating the firmware.” So even though internet-connected pacemakers are easier to hack, at least they’re also easier to update than the average Xbox. Nobody needs to hire the dude from Temple of Doom, hopefully.
“I’m pretty sure your heart needs a reboot.”
But all of those issues already exist. The terrifying new wrinkle that may soon become reality is the possibility of an internet “plague.”
A few years ago, British scientists—who are almost definitely evil—invented a computer virus that spread just like the common cold. The way it works is that once a virus uploads to a Wi-Fi-connected device, it seeks out other Wi-Fi-connected devices in close proximity and takes them over. Via this method, it can theoretically continue to replicate itself indefinitely until entire populations are infected. That might not be a huge deal if you’ve still got a bunch of dumb analog organs, but for those with artificial ones like pacemakers, it could become literally life threatening. And as of now, there’s no clear way to stop a viral spread of this kind.
So, uh, make sure you don’t accidentally get a liver that runs Windows 95 or anything.
Gangs Use Drones To Make Sure Nobody Snitches, And Drone Policing Is About To Get Crazy
Any time a new technology is invented, some will use it for good while others immediately turn it into something evil. Drones are no different. While you may use a drone to harmlessly inspect neighborhood barbecues you weren’t invited to, Brazilian criminal gangs use drones to identify and hunt down snitches. Presumably to later provide them with stitches.
When Brazilian police reached out to the community to solicit their citizens’ help in dealing with Rio de Janeiro’s rampant crime, a report was released suggesting the Comando Vermelho gang deployed drones to identify anybody who talked to the police. It’s not even entirely clear if that actually went on, but even the mere threat of drone spies kept people away from police stations.
And from painful stings, probably.
That’s just a single instance of drones used for crime, but given that in the U.S. alone the expected the number of drones will increase to seven million by 2020, it’s pretty harrowing. That’s a hell of a lot of crap flying around, and you know half of them will be used for all sorts of illegal activities like spying, blackmail, drug running, and even terrorist attacks. Of course, the police also have increased access to drones, but that can only mean one thing: nationwide drone-on-drone warfare.
Already we’re seeing advances in anti-drone countermeasures, from shotgun shell wire nets to freaking eagles trained to grab drones out of the air. As drone usage increases, both criminals and police will want to ensure the others’ drones can’t spy on their activity. What this will look like to the average citizen remains to be seen, but as drones are improved to help combat crime, at some point they’re going to become self-aware. We’re calling it now.
Criminals May Soon Be Able To Hijack A Plane With A Phone
Hijacking an airplane requires boarding a flight, overpowering the passengers and crew, and somehow flying an incredibly complex machine to somewhere with a nice beachfront resort. This was always an incredibly difficult operation, and, since 9/11, increased security has made hijackings even more difficult, and therefore rare. It’s just not worth it for the average douchebag looking to make a name for themselves. But what if would-be hijackers of the future didn’t need to know how to fly the plane? What if they weren’t even on the plane at all?
In 2013, a guy named Hugo Teso demonstrated a scenario where he hacked an airplane with his Android phone. Granted, he did so in a more-or-less hypothetical scenario which is why the government didn’t immediately drone-bomb him to death as soon as he stepped outside, but his results are still terrifying. Teso identified several systems aboard modern planes that are shockingly susceptible to remote attacks from even basic computers. Depending on a hacker’s sophistication, planes could be everything from remotely tracked, to entirely taken over mid-flight and flown from a phone like a crappy flight simulator game.
Like this, but way less real. Or more real. Wait …
He even developed a feature called “Be puckish” which causes a bunch of lights and alarms to start flashing and buzzing. Which, we guess, is in case a friendly hacker just freaks them out a little and keeps the pilots in check? Look, we’re not experts at this.
Thankfully, Teso didn’t get into too much detail, in case there were any trolls in the audience. Teso believes that newer aviation systems could be created in a way to prevent this kind of thing but also that older systems on older planes would basically be impossible to protect. So maybe avoid Delta for awhile?
Mapping The Human Genome Opens Us Up To Crazy-Specific Attacks
By harnessing the power of video-gaming nerds, scientists have made significant advancements in anti-viral research and human genome mapping in recent years. We know more than we ever have about the tiny little bits that make up our weird bodies. With this knowledge, we can theoretically create all sorts of new cures and vaccines to prevent the spread of previously-incurable disease like AIDS. Of course, that same research could be used to kill us all via horrific plague. So it’s kind of a wash.
As it became easier and easier to write down every little quirk about our DNA, the U.S. government began collecting it from world leaders and saving it on a hard drive somewhere. And while that information could be helpful in the event that important world leaders needed some sort of specific medicine (or ketchup), if that information fell into the wrong hands, it would open up the possibility of bioweapons specifically designed to kill exactly just one person—without leaving a trace.
“We were never here.”
This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Starting in 2015, several websites popped up that allowed users to upload their DNA information so other nerds could analyze the data and come up with specific, helpful viruses that could assist in all sorts of possible health solutions. Originally, they were working on ways to help beat back cancer, but it soon spread to stuff like vaccines, anti-microbials, and even specialized psychoactive drugs. Can you imagine having a drug built specifically for you? Like one that helped you do the laundry faster but gave everybody else diarrhea?
But here’s the scary thing, nobody knows where those designs or that DNA information ended up. As far as anybody knows, all that data could have been copied by any dial-up connected criminal and stored away. There’s no international policing on internet virus creation, so it’s entirely possible that somebody out there has the blueprints for a powerful, lethal virus that targets specific people groups that piss them off.
Holy crap, what does that mean for rabid sports team rivals?
3D Printers Could Soon Be Used For Basically All The Crime
You’ve probably already heard that people can now 3D print guns if they somehow can’t manage to find a normal one on their own, which they totally can. Politics aside, 3D guns are terrifying because, primarily, there’s no way to trace them, and secondly, everybody who uses one looks like the world’s wussiest Captain Kirk cosplayer.
What’s way more terrifying is the possibility that terrorists will someday soon be able to 3D print their own explosives from the relative safety of their mom’s basement. As printers improve—and more blueprints make their way online—creating a dangerous explosive will become no more difficult than faxing your butt cheeks to the HR department. Already, there are hundreds of designs out there, and it’s only a matter of a time before the technology becomes cheap enough for basement-dwelling neckbeards.
Or radical non-neckbeards.
Until then, even non-violent criminals can get their hands on the plastic action by using printed devices to scam people out of money. One of the most brilliant uses so far seems to be entirely fabricated ATM machines. A mysterious internet user known only as “Gripper” keeps popping up online showing off his ability to print machines that are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. With this device, criminals could steal credit card information from thousands of users without any of them even realizing they’ve been scammed at all. And given how much of modern banking seems like a scam anyway, the line is already pretty freaking blurry, as-is.
Like this article? Check out “5 Criminals Who Took Their Crimes WAY Over The Top” and “5 Gangs That Do Bizarrely Specific Crimes”.