If you’re familiar with sci-fi anthology series called Black Mirror, you might think of one of the episodes from the 5th season titled “Metalhead”. Apparently, it’s not a fiction anymore, it’s our today’s reality.
The robot dog named Spot is an invention that Boston Dynamics started first developing out of MIT. According to the state’s nonprofit branch called American Civil Libertie Union, these robots are now working with the Massachusetts State Police’s bomb squad.
The ACLU accessed a memo of agreement document between the state and Boston Dynamics through a public records request.
The request letter that the organization wrote in the records is the following: “The ACLU is interested in this subject and seeks to learn more about how your agency uses or has contemplated using robotics.”.
The ACLU collected all the valuable information about the new partnership, including that Boston Dynamics leased the Spot robot dog to the police force for 90 days between August and November. Because there is no detailed information revealed for a public eye, we don’t know how they are exactly using these machines. The only information that a state police spokesman David Procopio provided about Spot is: “for the purpose of evaluating the robot’s capabilities in law enforcement applications, particularly remote inspection of potentially dangerous environments.”.
Michael Perry, Boston Dynamics vice president of business development stated, that the company is aiming to make Spot useful for different areas like oil and gas companies, constructions or entertainment.
Perry said he anticipates, that the police is using Spot by sending it into areas that are too dangerous for human being.
The abovementioned robot dogs are constructed for a general-purpose. They have an open application programming interface, which means, a warehouse operator or in this case, a police department can customize them with their own software. From what we can read on the internet, State police claims they didn’t use that feature yet.
Even though, Perry claims the robot won’t be used in the way that would harm or intimidate people, the ACLU, as well as the internet community, are worried about the situation. Currently, the major issue is the lack of transparency in the overall robotics program.
There are various conspiracy theories made by netizens. They mostly predict worst-case scenarios.
The question is whether this invention is safe for the human race. But let’s face the truth. Everything could be dangerous if used in the wrong way. If people working on these machines will program the algorithm allowing them to shoot to people, they’ll follow the order.
Personally, I’m amazed and don’t really know which adjective to use other than “amazing” in this case. I applaud Boston Dynamics for creating the algorithms of their breathtaking machines.