Robotics is going to be a major issue in the 21st century, as they will be used for everything from doing daily tasks to enforcing compliance with laws. The latter is the case in San Francisco, where the SPCA is now using robots to harass homeless people near its building premises:
“As the homeless crisis on America’s West Coast forces many cities to the financial brink, one innovative animal shelter in San Francisco is using a low cost, high-tech robot security guard to shoo away the homeless outside its facilities, the San Francisco Business Times reported.
The San Francisco branch of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) contracted Knightscope to provide a k5 robot (the same model which in July commited suicide at a mall fountain) for securing the outdoor spaces of the animal shelter. Knightscope’s business model allows the SPCA to rent the robot for around $7 an hour, which is about $3 less than the minimum wage in California.
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.”
The robot, weighing in at 400 pounds and standing over 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, has been autonomously patrolling the sidewalks of the facility with a top speed of 3 MPH for more than a month, as far as we can tell. Sensors and fancy technology integrated with-in the robot are used to deter the pesky homeless from setting up shop.
Jennifer Scarlett, president of the SPCA told the Business Times: “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment.”
The social media reaction, on the other hand, has been overwhelmingly negative, shaming the SPCA for deploying the robot for targeting the homeless, while some blamed capitalism.
Nevertheless, San Francisco recently voted on a bill to decrease the number of robots on city streets. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the city could charge the SPCA a fine upwards of $1,000 per day for not complying with the new regulations operating on city-owned sidewalks.
In a particularly dystopian move by the SPCA, the autonomous robot purging the homeless from city streets in San Fransico may be a harbinger of what is coming to America’s inner cities as the humans slowly but surely lose the war against robots, first in the labor market and then, everywhere else”
One area where robots are going to have a major impact will be in military conflict, for future wars will be won not by he who has the best arms, but he who can build the best robots.
Soldiers will be replaced with robots because robots can perform all the tasks better than even the most highly trained soldier, and since robots do not feel pain, do not have families or emotions, do not need to eat food or drink water, cannot be swayed by propaganda or disinformation, and operate solely on efficiency, they are ideal killing tools.
Extensive testing has been going on for decades now, and just as the machine gun was for World War I and the atom bomb was for World War II, so will the robot be the next great weapon for World War III.
Robots will eventually be integrated into all aspects of public life over the next ten years. Their presence will have a massive economic and social impact on society, and owing to the legitimate concerns of many people about a machine being hacked, going “rogue,” or simply becoming possessed by an evil spirit, in order to market the rise of robotics and the replacement of humans with robots they will have to be presented as offering more potential benefits than negative consequences.
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