He doesn’t want Robocops joining the NYPD.
A new city council bill would ban Big Apple cops from using “weaponized” robots.
“The bill says that you can’t weaponize robots in a way that can harm people,” Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who told introduced the legislation last week, told The Post on Sunday. “It’s one thing to use a robot to defuse a bomb, but it’s another thing to weaponize a robot for interacting with people.”
Police “use guns when their life is in jeopardy and that is all,” Kallos argued. “If there’s a robot involved, there’s no human life to protect and therefore it doesn’t need to be weaponized in the first place.”
There is no evidence that New York City has purchased or considered purchasing armed robots — but Kallos believes the NYPD’s recent use of an unarmed “Digidog” to sniff out a Bronx home invasion could foreshadow future incursions into robo-policing.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also ripped the cyber canine at the time, who argued the money spent on such gadgets could be put to better use.
The NYPD has not disclosed the cost of each “Digidog,” Kallos said.
“People are already concerned about militarizing police, and this is stopping them before they get any further,” he said.
“We passed a bill back in the city council that they were supposed to disclose that they were using these robots, and they didn’t. So who knows what’s in store?”
He is also exploring ways to limit NYPD use of aerial drones, which are regulated on the federal level.
“Whether it’s robots or drones, we need to move away from overpolicing communities and get back to the basics of investing in people and giving people the resources they need,” Kallos said.
“The last thing that low income communities of color is a robot or drone patrolling them. Lord knows how many school seats we could pay for with the cost of one of these.”
Kallos believes the NYPD’s recent use of an unarmed “Digidog” to sniff out a Bronx home invasion could foreshadow future incursions into robo-policing.
The bill is co-sponsored by Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.
Experts told Wired, which first reported the proposal, that Kallos is right to be concerned.
“Nonlethal robots could very well morph into lethal ones,” said Prof. Patrick Lin of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo.
“Robots can save police lives, and that’s a good thing. But we also need to be careful it doesn’t make a police force more violent.”
An NYPD rep told Wired that the department “has been using robots since the 1970s to save lives in hostage situations and hazmat incidents.”
The Digidog “is being tested to evaluate its capabilities against other models in use by our Emergency Service Unit and Bomb Squad,” the rep said.