Spot the dystopia as robot dogs patrol New York streets

The internet has been driven mad by footage of Digidog, one of the first real-life implementations of a Boston Dynamics robot.

The tweet below showing a metallic quadruped being deployed by police on an American street has gone viral. The NYPD apparently calls it Digidog, presumably in an attempt to make it seem less sinister, but most people prefer to compare it to the killer drone featured in a Black Mirror episode called Metalhead.

Digidog is actually a product call Spot, made by US robotics firm Boston Dynamics. It’s marketed as ‘an agile mobile robot that navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing you to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently.’ The NYPD has been using them since late last year, but this appears to be one of the first bits of footage of one in the wild.

You don’t have to be the most paranoid conspiracy theorist to imagine the potential of these things in the hands of the police or military. While the writer of Metalhead admits to being inspired by Boston Dynamics videos, it’s easy to imagine future iterations going in more of a Robocop/Terminator direction.

This sort of thing could mark an inflection point when it comes to IoT and AI. The fact that we’re now releasing apparently autonomous robots onto our streets should give everyone pause for thought. Spot can apparently only move at three miles per hour for now, but that’s bound to increase and it’s easy to imagine suspects being chased by future iterations around out street like something out of, yes, Black Mirror.

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