Rule Five Friday

2014_11_21_Rule Five Friday (2)An interesting tidbit from the Left Coast:  Crime-Fighting Robots Go On Patrol in Silicon Valley.  Excerpt:

A new kind of security guard is on patrol in Silicon Valley: crime-fighting robots that look like they’re straight out of a sci-fi movie.

At first glance, the K5 security robot looks like a cartoonish Star Wars character.

“The vast majority of people see it and go, ‘Oh my God, that’s so cute.’ We’ve had people go up and hug it, and embrace it for whatever reason,” said Stacy Stephens, co-founder of Knightscope, headquartered in Mountain View.

2014_11_21_Rule Five Friday (1)They are unarmed, but they are imposing: about 5 feet tall and 300 pounds, which very likely will make someone think twice before committing a crime in their presence.

“The first thing that’s going to happen is the burglar is going to spot the robot. And unfortunately, criminals are inherently lazy. They’re not looking for something that’s going to be confrontational, they’re looking for something that’s going to be an easy target,” said Stacy Stephens, co-founder of Knightscope. “They see the robot and maybe they move down to the next place down the street.”

Or they will knock it over.  Or throw a blanket over it.  Or spray-paint over its optical sensors.

2014_11_21_Rule Five Friday (3)Or, they will just steal the robot.

Seriously, as described this just doesn’t seem like a terribly bright idea.  The designers of RoboCop Mk I may get away with this in Silicon Valley, but how about Newark?  Chicago?  Detroit?  Right down I-5 in Los Angeles?

In any of those locales as well as dozens of others, the response from the local criminal element is certain to be laughter.

If someone messes with the robot, apparently this happens:

2014_11_21_Rule Five Friday (4)If someone decides to attack the robot, it could get uncomfortable. When first confronted, they let out a loud chirp and notify the control center. The chirps will get louder and louder as the threat persists.

“A very, very loud alarm,” said Stephens. “Think of a car alarm but much more intense.”

Oh dear.  Loud chirps.  That’s certain to put off a criminal.  And how far away is this control center?  How far away are any actual humans who would be able and equipped to respond to RoboCop Mk I’s chirps of alarm?

The very real concern here is that the robot will be used as justification for reducing human police presence in any given area, 2014_11_21_Rule Five Friday (5)which is a catastrophic mistake.  Until we have autonomous robots capable of intervening in crimes-in-progress – and this, mind you, requires robots capable and programmed in the use of force (violating the Three Laws of Robotics?) then these are just expensive, fancy mobile security cameras.

Also:  Can they go up curbs?  Stairs?  Enter buildings?  Open doors?

The linked article concludes:

The makers of the robot said they have a long waiting list of about four dozen companies waiting for a K5. They expect to put many more of these robots in place sometime next year.

Privately  owned companies may spend their money however they wish, but one hopes that no tax dollars at any level are spent on these.

2014_11_21_Rule Five Friday (6)