NYPD is set to ditch its robotic police dog, with the department saying it had to remove the machine after it became a “victim of politics,” as critics insist it represents increased militarization of the police.
Deputy Police Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller told the New York Times on Wednesday that the robot, named “Digidog” by the ministry, would no longer be used, claiming that a contract with its creator was canceled after the dog became a “Target” for public criticism.
“People had found the slogans and the language to somehow do this evil”, Miller said, calling the bot “A victim of politics, bad news and cheap sound bytes. “
We should have called her “Lassie”.
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The NYPD’s lease for the device was due to end in August, and the department intended to continue testing its capabilities until then, but decided to end the trial sooner, Miller added.
While the department bragged that the $ 75,000 Digidog ” save lives “ and keep the agents out of harm’s way after hiring it from Boston Dynamics last year, many New Yorkers found the robot off-putting, conjuring up faceless automated police footage and, for some, dystopian fictional scenes like “Robocop” and “Black Mirror” ”. The device has been deployed several times, including earlier this month, when it helped apprehend a gunman at a Manhattan housing project, although police insisted he was not playing. a “Active role” in the arrest.
The dog was also released in an alleged hostage-taking in late February, when officers sent him to a house where gunmen reportedly took a man captive. As they eventually found the house empty, the use of the robot raised privacy concerns for some, including New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who assimilated the Digidog to a “Robotic surveillance terrestrial drone.”
Another New York congressman, Ritchie Torres (D), called for the “The federal government is intervening” after the most recent use of the Digidog this month, announcing a law that would require police departments to report the use of surveillance technology if they receive federal funds.
Local lawmakers have also expressed skepticism, with city councilor Ben Kallos introducing the “No Killer Robots Act” in March, which aims to increase transparency on the use of this technology by law enforcement agencies. While the robot is “Not currently equipped with weapons,” Kallos’ office said there was no explicit policy preventing this from happening.
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The developers at Boston Dynamics, however, insist the bot is only for non-violent purposes, a spokeswoman saying on Wednesday that they are. “Not intended for use as a weapon, inflicting damage or intimidating people or animals. “
But the “intimidating” factor may have ultimately resulted in the dog’s disappearance, as even a representative for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Glad the Digidog was dropped off.”
“It’s scary, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” spokesman Bill Neidhardt told The Times.
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