For the past six years, #volkswagen has been cheating on the emissions testing for its diesel cars. The cars’ computers were able to detect when they were being tested, and temporarily alter how their engines worked so they looked much cleaner than they actually were. When they weren’t being tested, they belched out 40 times the pollutants. Their CEO has resigned, and the company will face an expensive recall, enormous fines and worse.
Cheating on regulatory testing has a long history in corporate America. It happens regularly in automobile emissions control and elsewhere. What’s important in the VW case is that the cheating was pre-programmed into the #algorithm that controlled cars’ emissions.