A few weeks ago, Singapore introduced its first wave of robot police. Patrolling the streets of the Chinese city, the clunky, four-wheeled cops detect “undesirable social behaviour”. When violations are discovered, it issues distracting, loud orders and badgers pedestrians.
At the moment, the Singaporean robot police can't arrest civilians. However, the machine cops will continuously pester those committing acts it finds unsuitable. In the time of COVID, this also incudes people being too close to each other.
Robot police are creating a dystopian Singapore
In a report by The Guardian, Singaporean civilians describe the mechanical cops as a daily hassle. The city already features extensive facial recognition and tracking tech that strips everyday citizens of their privacy.
Currently, the machines patrol and scour the street for particular social violations. This includes public smoking, improperly parked bicycles and people being too close to each other. One robot was caught blaring at elderly chess players after it snuck into their housing estate.
The Guardian talked to local research assistant Frannie Tao who was far from sold on the robots. ““It reminds me of Robocop... It brings to mind a “dystopian world of robots. I’m just a bit hesitant about that kind of concept.”
Digital Rights Activists detest the idea
Singapore's robot police are just another way that the country is restricting the public. Unsurprisingly, the robot cops are not perfect, despite their restrictions. Furthermore, they lean more towards harassment, creating a depressing and hostile environment.
Lee Yi Ting, a Singaporean Digital Rights Activists, criticised the new robots. Ting explained that the new wave of robot cops are just one more way for civilians to be afraid of daily life. They said:
“It all contributes to the sense people ... need to watch what they say and what they do in Singapore to a far greater extent than they would in other countries.”
Singapore isn't alone. The United States and United Kingdom are both incorporating high-tech surveillance systems as well as AI prediction software. Of course, even in the Western world, those technologies are not well received.
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