New York City Council Member Wants to Ban Police Use of Armed Robots

Boston Dynamics digidog
Courtesy Boston Dynamics

If you’ve seen the episode of the Black Mirror (the linked video is fairly grisly) that featured murderous robotic canines that roamed a post-apocalyptic countryside, this GIF would possibly offer you chills . . .

The creators of that episode modeled their killer curs after Boston Dynamics’ Spot (photograph at prime).

Now, given the speedy development (and generally lethal use) of robotics by police departments in some jurisdictions, a New York City Councilman is shifting to ban regulation enforcement officers from utilizing armed robots.

From wired.com . . .

New York City councilmember Ben Kallos says he “watched in horror” final month when metropolis police responded to a hostage state of affairs within the Bronx utilizing Boston Dynamics’ Digidog, a remotely operated robotic canine geared up with surveillance cameras. Pictures of the Digidog went viral on Twitter, partially resulting from their uncanny resemblance with world-ending machines within the Netflix sci-fi collection Black Mirror.

That episode of Black Mirror should have given Councilman Kallos some severe nightmares.

“I don’t think anyone was anticipating that they’d actually be used by the NYPD right now,” Kallos says. ”i’ve no downside with utilizing a robotic to defuse a bomb, nevertheless it needs to be the appropriate use of a instrument and the appropriate kind of circumstance.”

It appears Councilman Kallos hasn’t actually been paying consideration. Robots have already been utilized in related circumstances by different police departments for years now.

Back in 2016, the Dallas police division geared up a robotic with an explosive and used it to take out a suspect who was holed up in a parking construction and had ambushed a variety of cops. The hostage-taker was killed when the system was detonated.

Later that 12 months, the LAPD used a robotic to snatch a gun and disarm a suspect in a hostage standoff.

More from wired.com . . .

In the Bronx incident final month, police used the Digidog to collect intel on the home what place two males have been holding two others hostage, scoping out hiding locations and tight corners. Police in the end apprehended the suspects, however privateness advocates raised considerations concerning the technical capabilities of the robotic and insurance policies governing its use.

The ACLU is anxious concerning the privateness implications of police utilizing robots and aren’t blissful that the NYPD didn’t sufficiently disclose that they’ve the machines.

The ACLU questioned why the Digidog was not listed on the police division’s disclosure of surveillance gadgets beneath a metropolis regulation handed final 12 months. The robotic was solely talked about in passing in a bit on “situational awareness cameras.” The ACLU known as that disclosure “highly inadequate,” criticizing the “weak data protection and training sections” relating to Digidog.

If solely we may get the ACLU as labored up about infringements towards Second Amendment rights by operations just like the NYPD and ATF. Wait…who are we kidding?

Meanwhile, dim bulb Dem Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was all labored up about the usage of robots, too…apparently as a result of they’re racist.

That prompted the NYPD to call the Congresswoman’s consideration to the truth that the NYPD has been utilizing robots in a single type or one other for the reason that 1970s.

“This is happening now,” says Melissa Hamilton, a scholar in Law and Criminal Justice on the University of Surrey within the UK and a former police officer. Hamilton says she’s heard of US police departments operating drills just like the 2016 incident in Dallas, utilizing robots to detonate explosives—not simply to neutralize suspects, however to enter buildings or finish standoffs.

“I’m concerned that a democracy is turning domestic police into a militarized zone,” she says.

This rising militarization is a part of why Kallos, the New York councilmember, needs to “avoid investing in an ever escalating arms race when these dollars could be better spent” elsewhere.


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