New York City Public Squashes Dream of Police to Use Robot Dogs on the Streets

By Nicholas West

The creator of Black Mirror – the dystopian sci-fi series – has famously said that he chose to stop making episodes because our reality has essentially become equally dystopian to anything else he could create.

Apparently, a healthy dose of New York City residents had seen one of Black Mirror’s most iconic episodes, “Metalhead”, because an outpouring of resistance ensued after a robot dog – “Digidog” – was spotted prowling the streets, and the NYPD subsequently admitted they were beginning to use the dog at crime scenes.

Now, a contract with Boston Dynamics has been cancelled, according to CBS New York:

The department canceled the contract with the robot’s creator, Boston Dynamics, on April 22 — four months before it was set to expire.

Police used the “digidog” to approach potentially dangerous situations and assess scenes before sending in officers.

An NYPD official reportedly told The New York Times criticism from the public about the robot representing over-militarization and how low-income communities are policed led the department to end its contract early.

The concern about “over-militarization” is a longstanding one that has spread across the nation even before robot dogs were entertained as the next phase of police work. Robots like this one also can be equipped with artificial intelligence facial recognition that has been widely decried as far too inaccurate to be used in routine police work or attempts to introduce pre-crime detection systems.

Resistance to programs like this are essential, as we’ve seen robot dogs being used in places like Singapore to enforce social distancing and other ways to herd the public; and a range of other robocops have been rolled out across the U.S. that could easily be adapted in the same way.

Of course, the end stage if we permit the proliferation of robot policing is when they become weaponized; or perhaps are permitted to become fully autonomous. It appears that New York has dodged the dystopia depicted in the following scene … for now:

Nicholas West writes for Activist Post.

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