DYSTOPIAN SOCIETY is on its way as a San Francisco animal charity has been using security robots to keep homeless people at bay.
According to a collection of reports, the San Francisco arm of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals put a K5 security robot created by Bay area startup Knightscope to patrol the pavement - American for pavements - outside its facilities.
The robot is equipped with cameras and LIDAR tech and was tasked with discouraging crime that apparently stems from a nearby encampment occupied by homeless people, by grassing them up to local authorities; essentially the bot shoos homeless folks away.
This is not really the behaviour or attitude one would expect from a not-for-profit charity, but it's the US so who knows what to expect these days.
As expected, such a cold move was met with overwhelming criticism on social media, with people encouraging others to wreck such robots and noting that this is capitalism at it's worse with money being spend on homeless hating robots rather than housing.
I'm sorry for being so frank, but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) December 12, 2017
Every time I travel to San Fran my heart breaks from seeing all the homelessness in a city with so much wealth and privilege.
FUND PROGRAMS TO HELP THE HOMELESS, FULL STOP. https://t.co/LaalT3XhTl
And it looks like San Francisco's authorities aren't happy with the robot's use, with the charity ordered to keep the robot off public pavement or face a $1,000 a daily fine, reported Business Insider.
The use of robots on the city's streets have also been limited recently with legislation banning robots in most parts of the city, meaning K5's day in public could be numbered.
While the animal charity has yet to comment on its robot use, Knightscope defended the robots use on private property.
"Contrary to sensationalized reports, Knightscope was not brought in to clear the area around the SF SPCA of homeless individuals. Knightscope was deployed, however, to serve and protect the SPCA," a spokesperson from Knightscope told Quartz.
"The SCPA has the right to protect its property, employees and visitors, and Knightscope is dedicated to helping them achieve this goal. The SPCA has reported fewer car break-ins and overall improved safety and quality of the surrounding area."
San Francisco has traditionally had large numbers of homeless people, attracted to the city due to its liberal attitudes.
But the issue is a thorny one with a lot of the city's crime attributed to its homeless population leading to some people feeling concerned about their safety and turning to other methods of security if they feel the city's authorities can't adequately tackle crime.
Such issues throw San Francisco's juxtaposed situation of extremely expensive housing and vast tech-fuelled wealth mixed with pockets of severe poverty into stark light.
Sadly, it would appear that all of the innovation that comes out of San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the Bay area can't seem to tackle such a divide in wealth and access to housing.
Instead, the innovation seems to be leading towards a form of tech-powered dystopia with robot police controlled by corporations. Maybe robot fearing tech luminaries like Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates have a point. µ
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