Boston Dynamics digidog
Courtesy Boston Dynamics
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If you’ve seen the episode of the Black Mirror (the linked video is pretty grisly) that featured murderous robot dogs that roamed a post-apocalyptic countryside, this GIF might give you chills . . .

The creators of that episode modeled their killer curs after Boston Dynamics’ Spot (photo at top).

Now, given the rapid advancement (and sometimes lethal use) of robotics by police departments in some jurisdictions, a New York City Councilman is moving to ban law enforcement officers from using armed robots.

From wired.com . . .

New York City councilmember Ben Kallos says he “watched in horror” last month when city police responded to a hostage situation in the Bronx using Boston Dynamics’ Digidog, a remotely operated robotic dog equipped with surveillance cameras. Pictures of the Digidog went viral on Twitter, in part due to their uncanny resemblance with world-ending machines in the Netflix sci-fi series Black Mirror.

That episode of Black Mirror must have given Councilman Kallos some serious nightmares.

“I don’t think anyone was anticipating that they’d actually be used by the NYPD right now,” Kallos says. ”I have no problem with using a robot to defuse a bomb, but it has to be the right use of a tool and the right type of circumstance.”

It seems Councilman Kallos hasn’t really been paying attention. Robots have already been used in similar circumstances by other police departments for years now.

Back in 2016, the Dallas police department equipped a robot with an explosive and used it to take out a suspect who was holed up in a parking structure and had ambushed a number of cops. The hostage-taker was killed when the device was detonated.

Later that year, the LAPD used a robot to snatch a gun and disarm a suspect in a hostage standoff.

More from wired.com . . .

In the Bronx incident last month, police used the Digidog to gather intel on the house where two men were holding two others hostage, scoping out hiding places and tight corners. Police ultimately apprehended the suspects, but privacy advocates raised concerns about the technical capabilities of the robot and policies governing its use.

The ACLU is concerned about the privacy implications of police using robots and aren’t happy that the NYPD didn’t sufficiently disclose that they have the machines.

The ACLU questioned why the Digidog was not listed on the police department’s disclosure of surveillance devices under a city law passed last year. The robot was only mentioned in passing in a section on “situational awareness cameras.” The ACLU called that disclosure “highly inadequate,” criticizing the “weak data protection and training sections” regarding Digidog.

If only we could get the ACLU as worked up about infringements against Second Amendment rights by operations like the NYPD and ATF. Wait…who are we kidding?

Meanwhile, dim bulb Dem Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was all worked up about the use of robots, too…apparently because they’re racist.

That prompted the NYPD to call the Congresswoman’s attention to the fact that the NYPD has been using robots in one form or another since the 1970s.

“This is happening now,” says Melissa Hamilton, a scholar in Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Surrey in the UK and a former police officer. Hamilton says she’s heard of US police departments running drills similar to the 2016 incident in Dallas, using robots to detonate explosives—not just to neutralize suspects, but to enter buildings or end standoffs.

“I’m concerned that a democracy is turning domestic police into a militarized zone,” she says.

This increasing militarization is part of why Kallos, the New York councilmember, wants to “avoid investing in an ever escalating arms race when these dollars could be better spent” elsewhere.

 

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72 COMMENTS

  1. Next time they need to defuse a bomb….Call in the DemocRat Politicians, seems to be an over abundance of them! Besides NY can always elect another one!

  2. Send in AOC – who cares if she receives an incoming round. Wait, I think sleazy/creepy joe wants to give her an incoming round.

    • I kinda have to agree with the democrats on this one. I don’t think we want killer robots out there. The left already demonizes us as inhuman for holding traditional American values. The gun grabbers would love to sick armed robots on uncooperative Americans.

      I might truth Andy with an armed robot, but certainly not Barney.

      • Years back, someone brought a ‘Barney’ plush to a local gun range. There were a surprising number of folks wanting to pump a few rounds in that purple ‘Spawn of Satan’, me included.

        (5.56 FMJ from my stainless Mini-14 folder zipped right through it… 😉 )

        • I was thinking of Barney Fife, not the purple blob. I wouldn’t mind shooting the purple blob Barnie.👍

          Also, I don’t want petty tyrants like gov. Newsom, Whitmer, Inslee, or Cuomo having killer robots at their disposal.

      • Drones/Robots/UAVs/UASs, whatever you want to call them, are the future.
        Deploying drones, augmented with AI programmed by unknown agencies, with the mission of seeking out and destroying the “enemy du jour” is a game changer. It’s not as much about protecting human lives, as it is about enabling a small group of powerful people to autonomously and anonymously attack anyone they choose, without the moral or ethical questions that come from human forces.

        • destroying the “enemy du jour”

          COULD mean “any civilian person in America with a gun” Military, cops and government “officials” get chipped any one else with a gun gets clipped… NO armed robots…

        • “It’s not as much about protecting human lives, as it is about enabling a small group of powerful people to autonomously and anonymously attack anyone they choose, without the moral or ethical questions that come from human forces.”

          Ragnar is 100% correct

  3. Good lets get is experience going. Do away with cops completly in NYC. They can have this “terminator” experment first.

  4. I definitely get the sentiment, but there’s still a pretty big gap between peeking a camera around a corner in a hostage situation and strapping guns to robot hellhounds and programming them to roam the “low income neighborhoods” randomly shooting people of diversity.

  5. I’ve been concerned about the idea of police over-reach ever since I was a teenager in the early ’00. But this think; I’m not that concerned about. I highly doubt that the police want to put AR-15s or thing. At worst just a tazor. And given how ass-mad the far-left are about the idea of these being used I say give the police as many of these as they want. And hell… if I could I’d like to get one to walk around my own 5 acre. 😛

    • “But this think; I’m not that concerned about. I highly doubt that the police want to put AR-15s or thing. At worst just a tazor.”

      They strapped a BOMB to one in Dallas to kill the sniper.

      I’d say a bomb beats a taser in lethality…

      • I do recall that incident. That was somewhat of an extreme incident since SWAT were out of options and just rigged up something using a bomb disposable robot that they strapped an improvised bomb onto. I can’t say I was all that impressed with what they did there. I don’t expect that we’ll see that too often. But ehh, I could be wrong and if that starts happening a lot I’m going to be very disappointed.

        • The big problem with that incident was not the robot. It was that the cops decided that they were judge, jury, and executioner. The guy was contained. He could have been waited out. I remember arguing with some former friends of mine at the time, saying to them “The cops are not Judge effing Dredd!” Those former friends who supported the cops blowing up a contained criminal all went over to Antifa/BLM/Defund the police in 2020. Michael Savage was right; Liberalism is a mental disorder.

        • they would have shot him had they been able. you got problems passing judgement on someone trying to kill you?

    • One with fur and a tongue is just waiting for you at the closest animal shelter. As long as you have the 5 acres fenced, he/she could roam around for the cost of table scraps.

  6. Using a robot to defuse a bomb or knock a door down is one thing – equipting it with a remote activated firearm or AI computer is not right. Who is to say who is responsible if something does go wrong?

    • You do not allow robots to act independently of human control except for navigation. When something goes wrong, you know who to blame.

      • Put weapons on robot dogs, and hold the drone operator responsible for deploying the weapons…

        • A little known fact: Many armed UAVs in combat were operated by DoD contractors. A military person stood by to push the button that “fired” the weapon on positively identified targets.

      • You shouldn’t, but there are people that are building them now and trying to sell them to the government. Guns that are motion detector operated, AI controlled flying bombs that will attack a preprogramed set of parameters(like headgear or type of sunglasses or uniform)

        • If the government has the ability to buy them, then so should the public. If you don’t want your neighbor to be able to buy one, then you probably don’t want the scoundrels running the country to buy them either.

    • @rt66paul

      Unfortunately, under the existing “qualified immunity” or “absolute immunity” laws neither the individual officers, their Department or the town / city at large are (rarely) held for damages or responsibility when things go very wrong (observed at all levels: Federal, State and Local).

      Increasingly, what I see, particularly in large Democrat-controlled cities, are officials voicing the old Alfred E. Newman saying…”What, Me Worry?”

      • And make no mistake about it, the Dems in power now will NEVER allow the “summer of love” we had in 2020. They will kick ass and take names. They are in control now and don’t you forget it!!!!

        • Are you actually asserting that the Antifags and BurnLootMurder crowd were/are demtard puppets? I’m shocked.

  7. The first armed robo-fido that strolls through Brooklyn will be snatched up in fewer than five minutes.

    What’s going to be interesting is the first perp charged with “assaulting a” or “murder of” an officer for smashing a robot.

  8. Not recalling the city but there was some news months ago about a police department flying larger, longer range spy drones to patrol with. Thus seeing into backyards, back patios and porches, windows, etc.

    That shit ain’t cool!

    But hey, if we are talking about actual 911 calls, shots fired, using these robots for actual cases, actual cause not just randomly spying, I’m okay with it. Bomb scares, taking out a sniper, delivering a phone to talk to some barricaded person, searching for a lost toddler, whatever.

    Yes, that includes mounting a gun on one of these “Robot Demon Hounds” for use in SWAT calls against heavily armed violent gunned up bad guys.

    No artificial intelligence deciding to shoot, strictly human controlled by an officer.

    • No artificial intelligence deciding to shoot, strictly human controlled by an officer.

      Until they decide that AI is more efficient… Ever see ROBOCOP or TERMINATOR? It always starts out for the greater good, but it ALWAYS winds up a disaster…

        • Removing Trump was for the greater good. Biden is the price you pay for your bad judgement supporting Trump for the 2016 GOP nomination.

      • “ROBOCOP or TERMINATOR”

        Yes, in Hollywood movie making fantasy. Real life is a different story.

        Also, Alice did not fall down a rabbit hole and Tom Hanks did not personally win World War 2.

        On the other hand, all stories about Chuck Norris are not only true, but fail to capture the true toughness of the man!

        • Real life is a different story.

          YOU do live in sheltered world… The original Buck Rogers started as a comic strip in the 20s and a short film in the 30s.. When they added sound they couldn’t imagine the sound of a rocket or jet engine so they used the drone of a propeller and sparklers for the exhaust… “FANTASY” yeah THEN… Now, we’ve put men on the moon, have rovers all over the surface of Mars, close up photos of Pluto, a probe on Titan that sent back photos for 72 minutes AFTER it landed, we have a probe entering interstellar space AND, as we speak, work is proceeding to send humans on an interplanetary journey that will ultimately result in humans populating another planet in our solar system… And you think an armed AI “robocop” or self replicating AI capable of attacking humans is FANTASY? Newsflash, the Chinese (with the help of “American” tech companies) is WAY ahead of Hollywood…

    • And how mlond before someone hacks in and uses it to create havoc? You know that the first accidental injury to a non involved person will be blamed on a “hacker”.

  9. a New York City Councilman is moving to ban law enforcement officers from using armed robots.

    Does anyone really see a problem with that? I mean, cops with armed ROBOTS? What could possibly go wrong? I’m with this NYC Councilman, much as it pains me… No to cops with armed robots…

  10. This is just the “face” of police tech so it’s easy to attack.

    The stuff people should be concerned about are the 4A shredding things that get little media coverage. But they’re not sexy like “digidog” and don’t get their own episodes of a Netflix show.

  11. I HATE how creepy these robot dogs are.

    For God’s sake, please duct tape a shoebox or a coffee can or a basketball or something to the front end so it at least LOOKS like it has a head.

  12. “Nobody cares GOOF.”

    You do! 🙂

    You just can’t get me out of your mentally-defective head.

    You have no clue how fvcking funny that is. You’re compelled to read TTAG and make pitiful attempts at insults.

    Rent-free I’m living in your head.

    As for me, tomorrow I’m getting my COVID vaccine!

    Have you gotten yours yet? 😉

    I’d love to force you at gunpoint to get yours… 😉

    • Everyone should have an autistic troll to play with… 🙂

      • Best chuckle all day…thank you Geoff!

        Had my second Pfizer three weeks ago…no after effects (was personally hoping for the third eye in the back of the head ala Episode 64 of the Twilight Zone, “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”)

    • I am curious why you believe that the person who leaves those trolling comments is the person you think it is. I know you’ve said that you believe this to be true but I don’t recall exactly what led you to this conclusion?

      Also, technically speaking, that person might not have a problem with your claim here since outside of Sinovac, it’s not technically a “v a x”.

  13. Let’s see if I understand the situation…this is the same NYC Council that defunded the NYPD to the tune of a BILLION dollars and now they are upset that the PD is using technology to fill in the missing “spots” their budget crunch led to…another fine example of Democrat circular logic.

    Obviously, the only solution is to keep cutting more of the NYPD’s budget…right down to the point where the citizens of NYC are getting the service level they deserve for what they are paying.

    The world is a crazy place and some places (ie. New York City) are crazier than most.

      • I understand what grant money is. Doesn’t change what I said. NYPD is increasingly using robotics to fill in gaps in their coverage…gaps formed as a result of their defunding. They are leveraging technology as a force multiplier…with the high tech devices in place there are no Union problems, no payroll issues, no sick leave or medical expenses…the tech is available 24/7 on short notice.

        For decades autonomous machines were the fodder of hard science fiction…they are reality in 2021.

  14. I’ve seen a movie about armed robots.

    Didn’t end very well for humanity.

    I actually have to side with the council on this one.

  15. What will Wars be when the element of the human is subtracted?
    Machine against machine, who can build the most the fastest.
    WangChung

    • “Everybody Wang Chung tonight…”

      I didn’t know Possums had MTV in their burrows… 😉

  16. Anyone heard anything about the police department that blew up the contained criminal in TX? What did the internal investigation reveal. Did the ATF get involved? If they did what were the findings? Who approved the use of explosives as offensive weapon? Who drove the robot? Who detonated the explosive? What is the policy, if there is one, going forward?

    The fact that they quietlY swept the crap under the rug without any type of open review sucks.

    Also they have robots at the NYC airports now. If I fly again I will not be interacting with the shit cans roaming the gates.

  17. A similar creature was used in the 2020 French made version of “War of the Worlds” (EPIX) where these four legged bots traveled about the countryside eliminating the humans with a rather unusual weapon, much like the captive bolt gun used in beef processing plants to put the cattle down…

  18. I just want to see that robot dog lift his leg on one of the vehicles or a fire plug…

    Another issue with a robot would be how to claim it is racist in its actions. In that regard it might always be best if its controllers were always of “racial minority” status.

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