Dan O’Dowd is an entrepreneur and CEO with over 40 years’ experience in designing and writing secure, safety-critical software.
Dan has built operating systems for the U.S. military’s fighter jets and some of the world’s most trusted organizations such as NASA, Boeing, and Airbus. His company, Green Hills Software, also helps automotive companies achieve safety and security, including that necessary for production-level automated driving systems, offering operating systems and development tools designed to address software security threats.
Dan has been a pioneer of making safety-critical software systems unhackable for the last 25 years. Dan graduated from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1976 with a Bachelors of Science in Engineering. Now Dan is a recipient of the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, which is the highest honorary which Caltech bestows upon a graduate. It was at Caltech that his passion for computers began to flourish.
After graduating he worked on developing some of the first embedded development tools for microprocessors. He used them to develop software for Mattel Electronic Football, which was the must-have Christmas toy of 1977. Dan then joined National Semiconductor in 1978 to design the architecture for the NS32000 32-bit microprocessor that was used in the Global Surveyor that went to Mars, and then mapped the whole surface of Mars.
Dan has also produced an unhackable laptop for the FBI, as well as an unhackable cell phone for the military. In an era where cyber espionage and cyber-attacks are among the largest threats to national security, the ability to secure our safety-critical infrastructure from external attack is paramount.
In 2021, Dan founded The Dawn Project, a public safety advocacy group campaigning to ban unsafe software from safety critical systems, which could be targeted by military-style hackers to cause chaos to our society.
The aim of The Dawn Project is to stop the use of commercial grade software in safety-critical systems. The first phase of this initiative is to convince the technology giants to adopt the principle that software that was not originally developed as safety-critical software must not be used in safety-critical systems.
Our first campaign is targeting Tesla full self-driving cars. We have conducted our own safety tests of Tesla FSD, revealing a series of critical safety defects which endanger the public on a daily basis.
We recently advertised our findings in a series of full-page advertisements in The New York Times, together with a nationwide television ad campaign and Super Bowl ad campaign in February 2023.