These Dystopian Robots Are Policing’s Future

Hawaii police are defending their use of pandemic relief funds for a robotic “police dog” made by Boston Dynamics which scans homeless people’s eyes to see if they have a fever…

“That’s just one of the ways public safety agencies are starting to use Spot, the best-known of a new commercial category of robots that trot around with animal-like agility…”

To be absolutely clear, there is not actually any legitimate reason for any normal person to refer to these machines as a “robotic dog”, or a “high-tech canine”, or by a cutesy cliché name for a pet. These are robots. Robots that are being used by police forces on civilian populations. If the robots being used had two legs, or eight, they would not be able to apply such cuddly wuddly labels, and public alarm bells would be going off a lot louder.

Which is of course the idea. As AP noted above, Boston Dynamics is acutely aware that it has a PR situation on its hands and needs to manage public perception if it wants to mainstream the use of these machines and make a lot of money. Because it’s a known fact that westerners tend to be a lot more sympathetic to dogs than even to other humans, arbitrarily branding a quadrupedal enforcement robot a “dog” helps facilitate this agenda. Read more…

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