Ricearoni Robocop – San Francisco Skynet
What do you visualize when contemplating a trip to San Francisco, California?
Some might think of the Golden Gate Bridge, walks along Fisherman’s Wharf, or other attractive features wrapped in nostalgic idealism. Some might think about the current state of the city, rampant homeless camps covering the sidewalk, congested traffic, and feces covering the sidewalks.
Recently the San Francisco Police Department has given you another thing to ponder before visiting the city: the use of deadly force has been granted to ROBOTS employed by SFPD. While this use of deadly force in some situations, the slippery slope that has been created can not be denied.
Knowing that many policies introduced in California’s bigger cities end up spreading throughout the state might make a person think about visiting or living in California. Do we want to live in a world ruled by technocratic artificial intelligence-based justice?
It is a complex issue that undoubtedly requires discussion, which is why it seems important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and perhaps illustrate how we got to this place in time.
Quickly Developing Field of Robotics
For the last couple of decades, robotics has taken leaps and bounds in advancement, this is partially due to its popularity and various companies taking on different niche aspects of development.
Companies around the world have taken on different aspects of production based on the need for real-world applications, some focusing on various movement functions and others on computer learning and communication. But what happens when this collective advancement is put in the hands of artificial intelligence and a global community of automation?
In a research article titled Embodied Evolution in Collective Robotics the concept of this collective advancement was discussed, describing the following observed features.
“These systems exhibit the following features.
Decentralized: There is no central authority that selects parents to produce offspring or individuals to be replaced. Instead, robots assess their performance, exchange, and select genetic material autonomously on the basis of locally available information.
Online: Robot controllers change on the fly, as the robots go about their proper actions: evolution occurs during the operational lifetime of the robots and in the robots’ task environment. The process continues after the robots have been deployed.
Parallel: Whether they collaborate in their tasks or not, the population consists of multiple robots that perform their actions and evolve concurrently, in the same environment, interacting frequently to exchange genetic material.”
Who Benefits? Military Contractors like Darpa
Largely benefiting from this collective advancement have been military contractors such as DARPA and companies like Boston Dynamics. With DARPA’s budget of $4.12 billion in FY23, an increase of 6.5 percent (or $250 million) it seems that almost anything is possible, keeping in mind that development is being achieved at an exponentially faster pace as time progresses.
Boston Dynamics, which got its start working with DARPA, has recently been more involved in development for the private sector, Being purchased by Hyundai in 2020.
Looking back, DARPA has brought forward multiple technical advancements that have transformed society, some examples given in the article How DARPA’s R&D model brings AI advancements to the enterprise include:
- The Computer Mouse (1964)
- The Internet (1969)
- GPS (1983)
- “Siri” (2002) (originally called “Calo”)
- Drones (1988)
- Project LifeLog (2003) (speculated to be the framework Facebook was based upon)
Darpa to implement AI Applications – Cyber attacks, deep fakes, et al
According to the article mentioned above, DARPA is focused on implementing a list of very practical AI applications such as real-time analysis of dangerous cyber attacks, detection of deep fakes, human language applications, biomedical innovation, and control of prosthetics.
If the outward effect reflects the development of previous innovations, these DARPA-focused developments in AI will undoubtedly have widespread permanent impacts on the world around us.
What Do Robots Do TODAY?
Where do we see significant levels of automation and robotics already in use on an industrial level? Manufacturing is an industry that has become heavily reliant on such technology and automation. From electronics to automobiles, to even the food we eat, a robot probably had a hand in its production.
Fully Automated Android Created Android Army Production
AI has been a much-debated aspect of this development, Elon Musk came out publicly and warned of its potential dangers. This heavily influenced his investment in Neuralink, a technology that he claims will allow humanity to evolve alongside AI. AI is also used in writing and art with multiple software products available that assist and or independently create media by a user’s suggestion or request.
Elon Musk, Neuralink Technology
One of the first things you read when opening the Neuralink homepage is:
“Every day we’re building better tools intended to communicate with the brain. With the right team, the potential applications for this technology are limitless.”
Machines and Morality
Self-driving vehicles are another avenue in which AI is central to functionality, taking control out of human hands and placing it in that of complicated software coupled with artificial intelligence. This has led to a set of moral dilemmas, if the driving is now out of human control what happens when a life or death decision comes before the software and AI running the show?
Drone V Drone – Techno Terrorism in the Middle East
Morality and Technology have been dancing on a tightrope for some amount of years now. If you remember during the nearly two-decade war on terrorism in the Middle East, it became commonplace for humans to pilot drones releasing devastating payloads of explosives on targets they could only see on a blurry fast pace black and white approach camera.
Some said this kind of warfare took the typical mental process involving pulling a trigger and corrupted it in a way that became unrecognizable. With pilots far removed from the battlefield, the act of taking human lives becomes much like that seen in video games – this is said to have a significant impact on the cognitive dissonance or conflict between beliefs and actions involved in making such decisions.
Murder vicariously, like a tool?
Much like the frequently referenced Milgram experiments, a person who is an assumed figure of authority directs an individual pulling the trigger, telling them that it is all right, that they are not responsible for what is happening because they are just following orders.
It has also been reported in communist China that the Boston Dynamics Walker Robots have been seen walking the streets, strapped with loudspeakers to instill fear in the public for the purpose of adherence to covid social mandates.
Is this psychological warfare with a machine army terrorizing and frightening a populace?
Are similar tactics on the horizon for our country as well?
If this technology is integrated into US law enforcement, will intimidation and drone-led fear-mongering become commonplace in public spaces?
Ricearoni Robocop, a “San Francisco Treat!”
Once again we see this moral debate step forward, this time on a more local level. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the San Francisco Police department (SFPD) is considering the implementation of remote-controlled androids in certain tenuous situations, claiming to have 5 functional units of the 12 total owned by the department.
The proposal document reports the financial impacts of the program as follows:
Fiscal Impact Initial Cost:
REMOTEC F5A: $267,955.95
REMOTEC F6A: n/a
REMOTEC RONS: $147,703.50
QinetiQ Talon: $208,068.30,
QinetiQ Dragon Runner: $121,730.49,
IRobot FirstLook: $106,551.41
Recon Robotics Recon Scout ThrowBot: $9,840, 2012
Estimated annual cost to maintain the equipment: $1,445
The proposal document put forward by the SFPD states the following:
” A remotely controlled unmanned machine that operates on the ground, which is utilized to enhance the safety of the community and officers by providing ground support and situational awareness for law enforcement operations.
Only assigned operators who have completed the required training shall be permitted to operate the robots. The Tactical Unit/EOD
Special Operations Bureau establish use.
The robots listed in this section shall not be utilized outside of training and simulations, criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, executing a warrant, or during suspicious device assessments.
Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when [the] risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD.
Use of any robots with audio or video functionality shall comply with authorized uses and prohibitions approved pursuant to Section 19B.2 of the San Francisco Administrative Code.
Only assigned operators who have completed the required training shall be permitted to operate the robots. The Tactical Unit/EOD Special Operations Bureau establish use.
Each deployment/use shall be logged with all deployment details and reported to the Assistant Chief of Operations or
designee to fulfill annual reporting requirements.”
Killer Robotic Drone Army Hellbent on the Death of Humanity!
The concept of killer humanoids and other drones is nothing new in our society, with hundreds if not thousands of movies and other expressive media throughout the entertainment industry. When you combine this with the historic stigma of relations between the public and law enforcement, it is completely understandable that many people will have questions or doubts about the proposition of this not-so-futuristic dystopian policy.
Should we Arm Robots?
Ultimately this decision falls on the San Francisco City/County Board of Supervisors
“The Board of Supervisors shall determine, based on a review of the annual report, whether each type of
equipment identified in this use policy complied with the standards set forth in Government Code 7071(d). If the
Board of Supervisors determines that SFPD has not complied with Government Code 7071(d) standards, they
may vote to disapprove a renewal or require modifications to this use policy in a manner that will resolve the
lack of SFPD’s compliance with Government Code 7071(d).”
Hopefully, they ask themselves if is this an application of technology that will truly result in the preservation of human life, or merely a gateway proposal ultimately leading to California Robocops on the street doling out justice determined by shadowy software AI and ambiguous algorithms. If history tells us anything, it’s that one law usually leads to another similar law that pushes boundaries set by its predecessor.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Please leave them in the comment section below. If we like a specific comment, we will PIN it and respond back in a corresponding article. Looking forward to your thoughts!
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