Sci-fi is only fiction until it isn’t.
A company in silicon valley has created a 5ft tall, 300 lb R2D2 looking robot that they hope will keep tragedies like Sandy Hook and other school shootings from happening.
“We founded Knightscope after what happened at Sandy Hook,” said the company’s co-founder William Santana Li. “You are never going to have an armed officer in every school.”
No, because an armed “officer” (could be a teacher) would be effective and since gun controllers in general have an aversion to logical solutions that work, they march out idiotic ideas like have a robot monitoring the halls.
Let’s just touch base with the obvious problem as it relates to Mr. Li’s statement. Unless this monstrosity is armed with kung fu devensive programming or armament itself (which is another HUGE problem if it were) what you basically have is an oversized, overpriced, overly intrusive smoke detector.
If someone is going to shoot up a school they are going to run by The Robot while it yells “DANGER Will Robinson DANGER”. What good is that going to do? It will still take someone WITH A GUN a quarter of an hour at least before they get there to stop the rampage. In that time the tragedy will all ready have conclued. In fact, it will just allow for another layer of tragedy to be piled on when people think about the money that could have been spent on arming a couple of teachers and training them instead of on a overpriced bucket of bolts.
That’s just the EASY argument to be made about these machines. If we scratch the service then we begin to see the ethical and moral questions that spring up. Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy and Information Center, a privacy rights consortium located in Washington, D.C. puts it this way:
“Once you enter public space and collect images and sound recordings, you have entered another realm. This is the kind of pervasive surveillance that has put people on edge.”
I know we live in a country whose government doesn’t believe in privacy, but at least they hide it poorly behind a veil of national security and other such nonsense. These little walking spybots will be EVERYWHERE, recording EVERYTHING. Warrants and probable cause be damned.
What kind of world are we heading toward? People will say “if you aren’t a criminal you have nothing to worry about”. That is about as asinine a statement as I have ever heard. For the government has the ability to make the benign into a crime and when they know everything about everyone the ability to resist tyranny would be stamped out.
Imagine our Founding Fathers plotting REVOLUTION while spy bots whiz about them. They would all hang together all right, from the King’s gallows.
But lets not take it so far back, if this technology was present a scant 100 years ago we still would be under the yoke of prohibition. Speakeasy’s weren’t patroned by hardened criminals, they were just regular folks who didn’t want to abide by the laws enacted by tyranny.
And to hear Knightscope talk about it, these robots are a precursor to Minority Report’s “pre-crime” unit:
“Data collected through these sensors is processed through our predictive analytics engine, combined with existing business, government and crowd-sourced social data sets, and subsequently assigned an alert level that determines when the community and the authorities should be notified of a concern.”
Basically, the machines will cross reference activities between what the government has collected from spying on you to what you yourself freely reveal to notify the “authorities” should they deem you “out of the norm”.
And help us all if some lazy bureaucrat feels that, in order to save a couple of bucks by laying off some flesh and blood employees, arming the robots is a good idea. That is not science fiction either as our military is moving forward with development of AUTONOMOUS drones. These machines will then have the power of life and death in their cold metallic hands.
Don’t think me techno-phobic. But in truth, the advent of thinking machines ubiquitously present and recording our every action and movement can have one of three results.
And all this started because we wanted to keep our kids safe at school? Forget the Robot Guardians and train some teachers to shoot a lunatic. Problem solved with the added bonus that the Robot Apocalypse is averted.
It’s not even noon yet on a Monday and I’ve all ready saved the world.
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