NYPD rips up $94,000 'Digidog' contract with Boston Dynamics after backlash from activists...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,918   +763
Staff member
In context: Science fiction has always been based on science fact, but the two have always been very distinct. As technology continues to become more advanced, the line between the two begins to become blurred. In turn, it becomes easy for people who have no intimate knowledge of how technologies like robots and AI work to become afraid that without human intervention, these devices will become like their science fiction counterparts on their own.

It was only last December that the New York Police Department began deploying a heavily modified Spot quadruped on missions in New York City. The department intended to use it in situations involving hazardous materials, bomb threats, and other situations where citizens' or officers' lives were at risk. The few times it did get called out were surveillance scenarios, such as checking out the inside of a house involved in a reported burglary before officers entered.

"This dog is going to save lives, protect people, and protect officers and that's our goal," NYPD Technical Assistance Response Unit Inspector Frank Digiacomo told WABC Eyewitness News at the time.

Unfortunately, the robot nicknamed Digidog didn't get a chance to show its true worth. Only months after the NYPD began leasing it from Boston Dynamics, it returned it—not because it was damaged or malfunctioning, but because it is scary.

Led by US House of Representatives member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, people expressed their concerns over the robotic first responder's potential to become like Metalhead from "the dystopic TV series 'Black Mirror,' reports the New York Post. The criticism arose in February after a video of officers deploying Digidog in a reported home invasion/hostage situation in the Bronx went viral.

Along with Representative Ocasio-Cortez, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the NYPD to "rethink" how it used the robot. Instead of rethinking anything, the NYPD canceled its $94,000 contract with Boston Dynamics last week and returned the robot. The lease was good through August.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told the New York Times that Digidog became a "target" for activists fueling irrational arguments over racism and mass surveillance.

"People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil," said the deputy commissioner.

Not only were activists expressing fear, but prominent city officials were as well. City Councilman Ben Kallos likened the robotic dog to Metalhead, adding that what New York needs is more "beat cops on the street, [instead of] trying to replace them with robots." Similarly, Mayor de Blasio spokesman Bill Neidhardt called Digidog "creepy."

"[I'm] glad it was put down," stated Neidhardt. "It's creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers."

The NYPD only deployed Digidog on about six missions, all without causing any harm or incident to civilians, before it fell victim to the so-called "cancel culture mob."

Image credit: New York Post

Permalink to story.

 

VitalyT

Posts: 5,497   +5,098
LoL. This is what I've been saying for years, that all Boston Dynamics creations are creepy as hell. Now even police has acknowledged that.

They should rename themselves into Boston Creeps.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,400   +3,484
Just shows the average IQ of society these days. Great job AOC, you're doing what you do best - creating s*it to stir up and then fanning that fire.

The robot doesn't look scary, the direction of this country does.
Careful, you sound like a white supremacist now. Anything that opposes the cancel mob is racist white supremacist dog whistling these days.

That being said, do you really want to invite AI and robots into being on the police force? Such a technology would be easy to abuse, after all what happens when said robots are in command by the very people who dispise you. like AOC? Imagine if a police department that sided with one faction, like say BLM, and allowed them to walk free when arrested decided to start hadning out sentences to anyone found now praying enough at the alter of woke. Robots cant refuse orders like humans can. How many times have we seen government try to overstep their powers and implement authoritarian control only for police to tell them to screw off? Happened two weeks ago in ontario.

"NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told the New York Times that Digidog became a "target" for activists fueling irrational arguments over racism and mass surveillance.

"People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil," said the deputy commissioner.
"

Well no ****, we've been trying to tell you this for years, but police departments continue to bend the knee to both protestors and the governments that allow them to act with impunity. Welcome to the new age, where angry mobs cost you your job on the regular and anything/everything you do can be re-contexualized as problematic whenever it suits those in power. Enjoy your stay

"City Councilman Ben Kallos likened the robotic dog to Metalhead, adding that what New York needs is more "beat cops on the street, [instead of] trying to replace them with robots.""

Well maybe stop backing rioters and tell the prosecutors to actually prosecute rioters instead of letting them go and you'd be able to find new police officers. Just a thought.
 

fps4ever

Posts: 660   +864
Careful, you sound like a white supremacist now. Anything that opposes the cancel mob is racist white supremacist dog whistling these days.

That being said, do you really want to invite AI and robots into being on the police force? Such a technology would be easy to abuse, after all what happens when said robots are in command by the very people who dispise you. like AOC? Imagine if a police department that sided with one faction, like say BLM, and allowed them to walk free when arrested decided to start hadning out sentences to anyone found now praying enough at the alter of woke. Robots cant refuse orders like humans can. How many times have we seen government try to overstep their powers and implement authoritarian control only for police to tell them to screw off? Happened two weeks ago in ontario.

"NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller told the New York Times that Digidog became a "target" for activists fueling irrational arguments over racism and mass surveillance.

"People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil," said the deputy commissioner.
"

Well no ****, we've been trying to tell you this for years, but police departments continue to bend the knee to both protestors and the governments that allow them to act with impunity. Welcome to the new age, where angry mobs cost you your job on the regular and anything/everything you do can be re-contexualized as problematic whenever it suits those in power. Enjoy your stay

"City Councilman Ben Kallos likened the robotic dog to Metalhead, adding that what New York needs is more "beat cops on the street, [instead of] trying to replace them with robots.""

Well maybe stop backing rioters and tell the prosecutors to actually prosecute rioters instead of letting them go and you'd be able to find new police officers. Just a thought.

I agree with most of what you said but wouldn't you rather have an AI robot disarm a possible bomb or get eyes on a dangerous situation vs. possibly trained officers getting killed? Its a tool, not a replacement. Bottom line is there are several issues they can improve before cancelling this because of feels.
 

Trapped Nowhere

Posts: 62   +57
What is the reception usually like when combining authority, newer technology, and paranoid citizens? I'd think the concerns would also be similar to use of drones as well, despite their usefulness
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,400   +3,484
I agree with most of what you said but wouldn't you rather have an AI robot disarm a possible bomb or get eyes on a dangerous situation vs. possibly trained officers getting killed? Its a tool, not a replacement. Bottom line is there are several issues they can improve before cancelling this because of feels.
well yes I would, however there is always a concern over how far technology will be taken. Once a walking robot with a camera can be sent into a situation with minimal human control, it's not a far jump to start using said technology in place of beat cops. Death by a thousand cuts.

Of course the proper solution would have been to do what they were already doing and just Ignore the cancel mob, they'll move on in a few days to something else until they get a reaction. Sadly it seems departments still havent figured that out. Pressure from de Blastino isnt helping.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,140   +1,269
TechSpot Elite
I personally like these things and I'd love to have one of my own but... I can see how people are mistrustful of the police and how their robotic dogs would evolve in the future. Let's face it, when describing their past record in dealing with minorities as "checkered", I'm really understating how bad it has been.

Police forces have been behaving so badly lately, that people are calling for them to be de-funded, not to be given more expensive toys. For them to have these robotic dogs in the wake of all of this could very well be one of the most tone-deaf actions in the history of municipal governance. The police have repeatedly demonstrated that the "toys" that they get are used against the populace, not to protect them, but to oppress and kill them so it's no surprise that this would appear terrifying. It doesn't look like Blitz from C.O.P.S. who is kinda cute in a robotic husky kind of way:
bowser_and_blitz_by_inspector97_d75qsc5-fullview.jpg

Nope, this thing reminds me of the Decepticon Saboteur Ravage from the Transformers. Not cute at all, just downright menacing and since it has no head, there's a serious case of uncanny valley involved as well:
ravage1_1215200554.gif

I could see it easily being turned into something like this meant to intimidate people, to keep them under the police's thumb instead of protecting them. Anyone who thinks that their fear is baseless has been living under a rock for at least the last thirty years or really needs to lay off the crack pipe.
 
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psycros

Posts: 3,406   +3,906
I personally like these things and I'd love to have one of my own but... I can see how people are mistrustful of the police and how their robotic dogs would evolve in the future. Let's face it, when describing their past record in dealing with minorities as "checkered", I'm really understating how bad it has been.

Police forces have been behaving so badly lately, that people are calling for them to be de-funded, not to be given more expensive toys. For them to have these robotic dogs in the wake of all of this could very well be one of the most tone-deaf actions in the history of municipal governance. The police have repeatedly demonstrated that the "toys" that they get are used against the populace, not to protect them, but to oppress and kill them., it's no surprise that this would appear terrifying. It doesn't look like Blitz from C.O.P.S. who is kinda cute in a robotic husky kind of way:
bowser_and_blitz_by_inspector97_d75qsc5-fullview.jpg

Nope, this thing reminds me of the Decepticon Saboteur Ravage from the Transformers. Not cute at all, just downright menacing and since it has no head, there's a serious case of uncanny valley involved as well:
ravage1_1215200554.gif

I could see it easily being turned into something like this meant to intimidate people, to keep them under the police's thumb instead of protecting them. Anyone who thinks that their fear is baseless has been living under a rock for at least the last thirty years or really needs to lay off the crack pipe.

I really don't think you could have written a more inane and delusional bit of drivel.

Meanwhile here in reality, cops have been using robots for literally YEARS (decades with some big-city departments). Bomb disposal, surveillance, even toting shotguns to deal with dangerous perps..but you give it four legs and suddenly its a sci-fi villain because a sci-fi show *copied* the real-world version. But we all know the real deal here - its all about human garbage taking advantage of government cowardice to spread anarchy any way they can.
 

Angga B

Posts: 132   +114
Funny. Same people who are impressionable and highly praise AI and automation as the future (aka: commoners) is always the same people who are easily spooked to see the machine "in flesh".

 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 75   +52
Those people who are against this robot should be the ones looking around walls to see if there is someone waiting there to shoot them or a bomb about to go off or you know any of the other violence pervasive in America.
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 75   +52
LoL. This is what I've been saying for years, that all Boston Dynamics creations are creepy as hell. Now even police has acknowledged that.

They should rename themselves into Boston Creeps.
If you don't like tech why are you here? Should they spend thousands of extra dollars making it look like a pet or let it look like a purpose built device?
 

Farkinell

Posts: 138   +207
Rather than relying on technology, how about tackling the reason WHY the NYPD felt the need to use the robots, the out of control gun violence born out of decades of unregulated gun ownership?
 

Yad

Posts: 73   +8
Spot isn't as scary as the other robot Atlas.
If Boston Dynamics equips it with weapons and **** then you can say its scary.
 

emmzo

Posts: 282   +250
Since people are living in alternate realities, I believe a Robocop project will fare much better.
 
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