Last year the New York Police Department added a new tool to their crimefighting assortment. Digidog, manufactured by Boston Dynamics, is a robot crime fighter equipped with powerful lights, two-way communication, and video cameras. Now, the robot is prowling the streets of New York City looking for criminals, but the New York Police Department has come under attack by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for how they are using the robotic crimefighter.
According to the congresswoman, the NYPD has only been using the Digidog in low-income neighborhoods of color. This indicates that the new technology is only being used to catch criminals who are Black or brown. In response, Ocasio-Cortez has shared her skepticism about the NYPD using the crimefighting robot and how they are going about incorporating the new technology into their regular activity.
She tweeted, “Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like school counseling instead,’ she wrote. ‘Now robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools.”
In a follow-up tweet, the progressive congresswoman added, “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world-class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc., consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
Digidog weighs about seventy pounds and sports the colors black and blue. The robot searches neighborhoods for suspicious activity and sends this information back to an officer monitoring the robot in real-time. However, the robot navigates the streets on its own and operates by artificial intelligence.
In addition to stalking low-income neighborhoods, the robotic dog can also climb stairs, navigate in the dark, and travel at three-and-a-half miles per hour. The Digidog was designed for emergency situations that would be dangerous for a human officer. Instead, the New York Police Department may use the robot to target low-income neighborhoods.
Right now, the artificially intelligent dog is undergoing testing with NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit. Officers used the robot during a recent home invasion scenario that involved a barricade. Two men were being held at gunpoint in a Bronx apartment, according to the police. Two men pretended to be plumbers to gain access to the home. When they entered, they imprisoned the inhabitants at gunpoint and tortured them.
Digidog was deployed to confirm that the suspects had fled the scene. The police are still searching for the two armed and dangerous men. They stole electronics and $2,000 in cash from the victims and used a hot iron to burn one of the hostages.
The New York Police Department is not the only police force using the Boston Dynamics creation. Massachusetts State Police and the Honolulu Police Department also employ the robot on the streets.
Boston Dynamics previously stated that they do not want police departments to weaponize their robotic dog. They said they do not want their robot to be used in any way that could “physically harm or intimidate people.”
Do you think police departments should be using this robotic crimefighter during routine patrols?
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