So these new robot police in Singapore are actually beyond terrifying

Oct 7th

If this is the kind of world you want to sign up for in the name of "safety," then count me the heck out:

I'm starting to think that having robot overlords would be preferable to power-hungry people who use robots to make life insufferable.

Singapore is trialling patrol robots that blast warnings at people engaging in 'undesirable social behaviour', adding to an arsenal of surveillance technology in the tightly controlled city-state that is fuelling privacy concerns.

The government's latest surveillance devices are dubbed Xavier, and issue warnings to the public for certain behaviours.

"Xavier"?

Imagine being some robotics engineer who wants to make the world a better place through your creations, and so you give you a robot a name to make it more personableā€¦

Only to have it be used a few years down the road to yell at old people watching a chess match:

During a recent patrol, one of the "Xavier" robots wove its way through a housing estate and stopped in front of a group of elderly residents watching a chess match.

"Please keep one-metre distancing, please keep to five persons per group," a robotic voice blared out, as a camera on top of the machine trained its gaze on them.

At least it's only a camera on top of that swivel mount... for now.

Here's a video of what that looks like:

When people are calling your new public policy something akin to RoboCop, you know something went really, really bad about five steps back:

Frannie Teo, a 34-year-old research assistant, was walking through the mall during the recent robot patrol trial.

"It reminds me of Robocop," she said.

It brings to mind a "dystopian world of robots ... I'm just a bit hesitant about that kind of concept," she added.

I'm pretty sure everyone is hesitant about that kind of concept, Frannie, except for the people controlling said robots.

The Asian city-state also has facial recognition systems embedded in lampposts and a widespread CCTV system, just in case any citizens manage to avoid the robot patrols.

The government is justifying the use of the robots due to a labor shortage:

But the government defended its use of robots, saying they were not being used to identify or take action against offenders during the tech's trial, and were needed to address a labour crunch as the population ages.

'The workforce is actually shrinking,' said Ong Ka Hing, from the government agency that developed the Xavier robots, adding they could help reduce the number of officers needed for foot patrols.

Sounds like we have yet another modern problem that could simply be solved by having more kids.

Unless the idea of making babies is somehow less attractive than the idea of robot watchdogs patrolling the streets!

And sure, I know that right now this product is still kind of gimmicky.

But give it a few years... then this thing will be walking on two legs with a remote license to kill and twin machine guns!


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