Caterpillar's heavy vehicles are killswitched subprime computers on wheels


So, when someone is in the middle of a complex operation involving multiple pieces of equipment, and a bunch of people die because one of the machines gets accidentally bricked, the Lawyers will rejoice. When a North Korean hacker figures out how to brick every piece of construction equipment in the US with one line of code, the lawyers will do a happy dance.


If one of these IoTs is totally disconnected from the internet, does it simply refuse to work? And if so, when it’s 2023, and President Trump in his second term decides he needs to use the internet kill switch, does every appliance, car, factory, construction site, etc., all just stop? Or is my IoT La-Z-Boy Power-Recline Reclina-Rocker (with Motor Massage & Heat) not working going to be the least of my worries?


Who do you think is going to manufacture the friggin killswitch hardware? And yeah, hackers will delight in figuring out an override.

Apart from being a bad idea, its just a killswitch. It’s not turning the machines into murderous implementers of US foreign policy.


I would say there’ll be a large timeout. It has to call home to Caterpillar servers once a month until the bill is paid.


You guys never heard of Mel Farr? I don’t mean his career with the Detroit Lions, but his attempt at a similar system for sub-prime car sales or leasing in 1999. Maybe the tech has gotten better since then and Caterpillar won’t get sued like Farr did.


So it uses cell or satellite networks for communication.
I’m guessing it either has to be in periodic communication in order to stay active, or they can transmit a kill signal to it.

Either way, what happens if it’s being used in an underground mine where there’s no radio reception?


Mining internet telemetry systems are a common thing now.
Point a radio down the hole, relaying where needed. A nice long Ethernet cable. There’s ways that a big mining concern can easily afford and share with other purposes.


The fail here is that non-payers can still use the holes they’ve dug. Caterpillar needs to consult with the folks behind Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 365 to learn how to, erm, plug that hole.


You can bet that these companies will spring up.

You can also bet that Caterpillar parts resellers will spring up. All guaranteed 100% OEM parts!


Given the reliability of the F series trucks China’s farmers should be more worried about the machine just breaking down in the middle of the paddock/mine


All of this is a side tangent as likely these sales are to independent contracting companies within china, not the Chinese government, BUT…

China holds the most US currency on reserve of any country in the world besides the US.
The People’s Bank of China holds 1/3 of the worlds reserves at $3.56 trillion, 60% of which is US currency, 40% of which are exchangeable transferable US Treasury bonds (approx $1.27 trillion). In addition they hold $6.2 trillion of US debt.

This is why their announcements of switching a larger portion of their reserves to euros and gold has the USA so spooked, that could irreversibly collapse the US economy. They have us by the short hairs financially. The only reason they haven’t switch outright is that they have a vested interest in recouping our debt to them. They want to be able to get their money back out. Which they are doing in the form of buying businesses and properties, but that process only happens so fast.


Good thing no world war was ever set in motion by one industrialized nation owing a crap-ton of unmanageable debt to another and courting a racist megalomaniac’s rise to power…

Oh shit.


Leasing equipment with electronic kill switches in China is stupid. That will just create a secondary market of Caterpillar resuscitators, and once you resuscitate a kill-switched machine, it’s yours.

Caterpillar should buy up the world’s glut of used equipment, then sell that equipment in developing countries. That would eliminate the glut of inexpensive equipment in countries that can afford new (US, Germany, Japan), and shift it to places that can’t afford new. Then Caterpillar could also dominate the replacement parts market needed to support those fleets of used equipment.

But instead of something that would actually benefit their business long-term, they’ve been doing a stock buyback program. Because modern executives don’t know how to lead companies; they only know how to kick the can down the road.


Reminiscent of that (allegedly fake) story of dystopian excess doing the rounds last year, re. the London property market’s insane economies which supposedly saw people just burying their heavy machinery when it became too much trouble to bring them back up through the subterranean levels they’d hewn out:


These evil acts are of course illegal in the Free* World!
Of course, China is NOT FREE, so the Chinese are FREE to do those things.

* free: a country is considered “free” if it does what it is ordered to do by the Leader of the Free World or the companies he represents.


I measure freedom by the ability to get hands on code and specs, parts, chemicals and other substances, and technologies without red tape and permits and other impediments.

The Free Democratic West often doesn’t fare so well.

Opensource everything. By cunning or force if needed.


I can’t decide if this more of a Robopocalypse or more a Freedom tm type situation.

I do detect faint notes of Makers on the finish though.

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