iPhone jailbreaking pioneer George Hotz is building a self-driving car of his own

By , Dec 16, 2015

George Hots Bloomberg Businessweek image 001

George Hotz aka ”Geohot”, one of the pioneers of the early jailbreak scene, is building a self-driving car of its own, according to a lengthy profile published today by Bloomberg Businessweek.

If you frequent this website, you’re probably aware that Hotz is credited with becoming the first person to carrier-unlock an iPhone, which allowed users to use their handset with other carriers.

Much like he’d hacked the original iPhone, he’s now done the same with his ordinary 2016 Acura ILX sedan. Working in his garage, he’s managed to turn the Acura into a self-driving vehicle in about a month, by putting a laser-based radar on the roof, mounting a camera near the rearview mirror and attaching a 21.5-inch screen and a joystick to the dashboard.

Hacking the car

“We’re on the brink of another industrial revolution now,” he said. “The entire Internet at the moment has about 10 brains’ worth of computing power, but that won’t always be the case.”

In outfitting the Acura with cameras and sensors, he’s written his own software that runs on a Linux-based machine. The software is trained for the cameras using so-called neural net, a self-teaching artificial intelligence that uses data from the vehicle and driver to learn from their choices.

The self-learning system that doesn’t rely on preprogrammed rules about driving, like pretty much all commercially available self-driving systems on the market do. In order to rack up a lot of training miles for the car, Hotz intends to start driving for Uber soon.

George Hots Bloomberg Businessweek image 002

Intriguingly enough, his feat is said to have impressed Tesla Motors founder and co-owner Elon Musk so much that he offered Hotz a job working on homegrown Autopilot software along with a multimillion-dollar bonus.

“I’m happy to work out a multimillion-dollar bonus with a longer time horizon that pays out as soon as we discontinue Mobileye,” Musk is said to have emailed.

Hotz declined.

“I’m a big Elon fan, but I wish he didn’t jerk me around for three months,” he says. “He can buy the technology for double.”

In a few months time, Hotz claims he will have a video of his Acura outperforming a Tesla across the Golden Gate Bridge (“he’s heard that Teslas struggle when going across the bridge because of the poor lane markings”) before passing the final test on I-405 in Los Angeles, where Musk lives.

So, what does the future hold for Hotz?

With comma.ai, his own company, Hotz has Mobileye in its sights, a supplier of driving assistance systems that helps power Tesla’s Autopilot system. Using off-the-shelf parts, he’s basically building a $1,000 kit consisting of six cameras and smart control software that automakers would hopefully sell directly to consumers who would buy customized vehicles at a showroom run by Hotz.

Speaking of future, here’s a passage that I’ve found worthy of sharing:

The truth is that work as we know it in its modern form has not been around that long, and I kind of want to use AI to abolish it. I want to take everyone’s jobs. Most people would be happy with that, especially the ones who don’t like their jobs.

Let’s free them of mental tedium and push that to machines. In the next 10 years, you’ll see a big segment of the human labor force fall away. In 25 years, AI will be able to do almost everything a human can do. The last people with jobs will be AI programmers.

The full profile is a tremendously fascinating read so check it out right now by clicking the source link below or save the article for later.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

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  • Elias Chao

    Geohot is awesome. He’s such a very smart guy.

  • iPhoneWINS

    this technology is only effective under perfect road conditions which as we all know seldom exist.. this AI would need too be able to interpret and improvise for thousands of random dangerous driving scenarios like the human brain does..

    • Fanboy 

      Yes and I’m sure somebody as smart as Geohot didn’t consider this already…

      • Dan

        Even if he did, the question is, has he gotten around this problem? My guess is no.

      • Fanboy 

        And did you just pull that guess out of your behind or do you have something to back it up? If somebody like Geohot can build & rig a system like this into his stock car from his basement (engineering at a level that Tesla employees are, who have a designated building with proper equipment, funding, etc.) who is to say he can’t solve those type of issues as well?

      • Dan

        Who is to say he can? I said ‘my guess is no’. I didn’t say there’s no way he did.
        I think you should remove your head out of your behind buddy. Or your nose out of his, either way.

      • Rowan09

        Exactly a billion dollar company can’t fix the issue, so it’s safe to assume it’s not that easy.

      • Mark S

        This doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Just because you have a lot of money doesn’t guarantee anything. Most companies / government agencies are very slow to change and figure out issues because their own bureaucracy and internal politics grind everything to a halt. There are so many managers out there who don’t do the work yet make the decisions for those that do. That screws a lot of places up. Geo being a one man army responsible to no one can move faster.

      • Rowan09

        The more minds working on something usually finds the solution faster, but that doesn’t mean 1 mind cannot find the solution as well. Self driving is far from being able to just totally trust a car otherwise Google and Tesla would be a lot closer. Geohot is very skilled, but so are the many employeed by Tesla and Google.

      • Damian

        give him 20 years and the answer will be YES

    • Dan

      I agree. Imo, self driving cars will come with many legal troubles (who’s responsible in the case of an accident? The human passanger? The programmer? The car manufacturer?).

      Going to be a while till it’s implemented correctly. There are a lot of circumstances where ‘creativity’ is required to avoid an accident, don’t think these ‘AI’ are ready for that.

    • Vince Reedy

      You have to start somewhere though

  • Geohot proves yet again that he’s a brilliant guy. I wonder if he’ll end up beating Tesla or Google with this project. Most likely, he will.

  • :D

    The title made me think this was some kind of a joke, but wow, he’s done pretty well for himself

  • Vince Reedy

    The guy is a LEGEND

  • Chuck Finley

    Whatever keeps him away from rapping is a good thing.

  • Chris Wagers

    Funny how he makes this self learning artificial intelligence software in a month on his own. Using off the shelf parts that cost about a thousand dollars… This one man does this but yet Siri with the power of how’re many developers can’t answer the question “who sings this?” when I want to identify a song playing on the radio after upgrading to iOS 9.x. She used to be able to do this but now she just says “here’s what I found on the web for who sings this”. I mean Siriously… (Misspelling intended). I just find this strange.

    • Rowan09

      It’s the system powering it, Shazam. Sound hound is wayyyy better.

  • pnh

    Am I the only one who is obsessed with the fact that his choice was to hack into a brand new Acura?

    • Dave

      why?

  • TechnoBuff

    I applaud his brilliance and ingenuity but it is important not to get carried away here. He is working on autonomous driving does not mean he has a working prototype!!!
    Self learning AI requires more that what he has displayed in that Acura.

    Everyone keeps on stating that he has done what other big companies have not been able to do, which is completely wrong. He does not have a prototype on the road yet nor has he been able to show any video of autonomous driving.

    I am not saying he cannot do it but it is important not to get carried away here.
    Autonomous driving and AI is not a small feat.

  • Rowan09

    Well this is good and bad. I don’t need technology replacing any more jobs, I hate automated phone machines. Nothing now or in the near future can replace human intelligence and better yet experience.

    • simmerkatt

      honestly, i absolutely hate them as well. no one can “hack” a human brain to get information out, but anyone with the expertise can quite easily hack into a bank if they are determined enough to do it.

      or they could just steal the money from the till

  • Fardeen Beharry

    no doubt this guy is a genius, big respect

  • Anyone else get that sense of Geohot being a little crazy ish in what he does and in his behaviour, like a mad scientist lol

  • Cocky, but a very smart guy