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Earlier today, we mentioned the bizarre story of a San Francisco animal shelter which was using a low cost, high-tech robot security guard to purge homeless people outside its facilities. The San Francisco SPCA branch had contracted Knightscope to provide a K5 robot (the same model which in July committed suicide at a mall fountain) for securing the outdoor spaces of the animal shelter.
Why use a robot to chase away humans? Simple: money – it costs the SPCA $7/hour to rent the robot, about $3 less than the minimum wage in California, and according to San Francisco Business Times, the robot was deployed as a “way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people.”
Everything was going great – and very cost-efficiently too – until the local humans fought back, knocked the robot over, and smearing it with feces before eventually forcing the robotic guardian to be purged itself.
As the homeless problem continues to surge in San Francisco, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic has taken the novel, if dystopian, approach of hiring an autonomous security robot unit to clear out vagrants. The SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) deployed a K5 robot manufactured by Knightscope, a Silicon Valley-based robotics company, to help discourage homeless people from erecting tents on the sidewalks and streets near the clinic. Though it has reduced the number of encampments, the robot has drawn overwhelmingly negative reactions from city residents.
Resembling a Whovian Dalek, the K5 security robot moves at around three miles per hour and is equipped with four cameras and an array of lasers, thermal sensors, and GPS. It can be rented for $6 an hour as opposed to the $16/hr a security guard costs.
Here it is in action pic.twitter.com/nSBQUmKwk1
— Sam Dodge (@samueldodge) December 9, 2017
Representatives for the SPCA say homeless encampments were making the area dangerous for staff members.
As Israel prepares for yet another war directly on its border, the truth about Israel’s vast military capabilities has been largely absent in the corporate media.
However, if one were to be fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be able to travel to Israel’s border with Syria in the north and the Gaza strip in the south, they might see what looks more or less like a scene from RoboCop.
Israel is the first country in the world to use unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) to not only patrol its borders but also to replace soldiers on missions, as well. The new Border Patroller model can be armed with remote-controlled weapons, reconnaissance means, and additional components that cannot be fitted on the traditional Guardium model it had been using for years prior.
The robot is also able to patrol underground and gather information for units that are present on the surface. For example, it can help soldiers avoid booby-trapped tunnels.
These robots can be given pre-designated routes for their patrol, making them more or less autonomous.
According to the New York Post:
Stories about robots taking over from humans have become prevalent. Recently we’ve written about a new Manhattan Shake Shack replacing human cashiers with robots, killer robots (a.k.a. lethal autonomous weapons systems), a Californian real estate company replacing commission-based human agents with robots, a cocaine workshop in Brazil with robots packing 150,000 baggies a day and the first robot to be awarded citizenship which hopes for “harmony with humans”. No chance.
In June, we discussed a McKinsey & Co. report which stated that US manufacturing could be poised for a recovery and not because of Trump’s policies. Indeed, McKinsey’s rationale was based on automation weakening the case for labour arbitrage. James Manyika, McKinsey Global Institute director, commented.
The Japanese have their non-nagging synthetic wives, the Saudis have their Shariah-compliant humanoid citizens, Americans are content with a backflipping supra-human, and now the Chinese get their very own 50lb, poop-less, robo-dog…
Meet Laikago – named after Laika, a Soviet dog who was the first living creature to orbit the Earth.
The Chinese-made robot dog weighs 22kg, a bit less than a common Labrador, and is around 60cm tall.
Since being founded in 1992 with funding from DARPA, robotics company Boston Dynamics has unveiled one nightmarish robotic creation after another. But the company outdid itself this week when it introduced the latest iteration of its ‘Atlas’ robot.
The company caused a stir after publishing a video on YouTube showing the hulking humanoid robot jumping across platforms of varying heights and even perform backflips on command – some of the most advanced capabilities demonstrated by any bipedal robot.
If you’re wondering how this seemingly trivial ability portends imminent warfare between mankind and the machines, then you need to ask yourself: When was the last time you did a standing backflip?
Unless you’re a gymnast, the answer is probably never.
THE growing sophistication of creepily real sex robots is leading to moral and legal dilemmas, a leading academic has warned.
Prof Mackenzie specialises in areas such as robotics and the ethical and legal relations between humans and robots.
One of the reasons why Saudi Arabia has found itself in fiscal and budgetary dire straits in recent years, is that as a result of the plunge in oil prices in recent years, the government has been unable to keep paying the thousands of local and foreign workers who are (or were) employed on any number of local infrastructure and development projects. However, with the Aramco IPO also suddenly on the rocks even as the country’s reserves continue to shrink and deficits grow, the Gulf kingdom appears to have come up with a radical solution to its structural problems, when on Wednesday Saudi Arabia became the first nation in the world to grant a robot citizenship.
The outspoken humanoid robot called Sophia, flown in from Hong Kong, was granted Saudi citizenship at the Future Investment Initiative, a major investment conference hosted by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) that aims to highlight the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan for the future.
All of Elon Musk’s worst fears are slowly becoming reality.
The Telegraph reports that robocop-type policing techniques are set to replace beat cops within a decade as the use of artificial intelligence becomes more widespread in investigating crimes.
Thames Valley Police said AI computers – which mimic humans by making decisions themselves – could be used to answer 999 calls, detect crimes and identify offenders.
But in one chilling detail that will hopefully be resolved within the next decade or so before robocops become a routine presence in London’s streets, the TVP warned of “bias” in the AI software and a concern that AI computers “might be unable to reason with a human”.
We don’t find further clues about the subject of these biases until much later in the story, when the leader of a civil liberties group – which have been predictably alarmed by plans to automate police forces – pointed to a study showing the machine’s algorithms have shown racial biases, according to the Telegraph.
Would you trust a robot to rock your baby to sleep? The question likely elicits the chilling vision of a Terminator cradling your child. However, a new product — the Snoo — is, in fact, an automated crib, a high-tech bassinet perfectly calibrated to ‘swaddle’ infants and lull them into slumber. It’s an early entry of automated child care in an age that promises to integrate robotics into the daily fabric of human life.
So, back to the question at hand:
Would you trust a robot to swaddle your child while she sleeps?
The Snoo was developed by renowned pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, MIT-trained engineers, and Yves Behar, who runs a tech-savvy industrial design firm. The team’s goal was to recreate the sensations of being in the womb by swaddling the infant — restricting their limb movement, a practice some have criticized — and inundating them with white noise. This is accomplished with a sleeper outfit that one mother, Samantha Murphy Kelly, referred to as a “straight jacket” that safely secures the child as the bassinet rocks her to sleep.