BOSTON - You might remember hearing the news a few weeks ago that Boston Dynamics had developed an impressive and completely functional robotic dog. This definitely raised a few eyebrows from people who are skeptical about the future of robotic technology, but it apparently also sparked a few ideas in people who could actually make use of the robotic dog in practical situations. Who might these people be? Well, think about it. There is one group that has long used robots to help complete their jobs and they have also long used dogs to work more efficiently.
So why wouldn’t the police force be interested in welcoming a robotic dog to the team? That is exactly what the Massachusetts State Police thought when they decided to bring Spot, the canine-adjacent robot from Boston Dynamics, into the fold as the first robot of its kind to be used in any sort of law enforcement. Currently, Spot has returned to Boston Dynamics where it will likely be loaned out to other organizations, but for now, the police might be interested in bringing in something like Spot full time.
When Spot operated for the Massachusetts State Police, it worked for the bomb squad. Details of its purpose have been kept under wraps with the bomb squad, but documents do point to the dog being used to detect devices or items that could be potentially dangerous, as shared by Popular Mechanics. The dog would observe them from afar and alert the proper authorities.
This has raised questions from the American Civil Liberties Union because the idea of Spot having this power to be reprogrammed for has been deemed both “terrifying” and an infringement upon the rights of citizens, per WBUR. The state police has remained steadfast in their claims that Spot was only used for protective measures. Boston Dynamics came out to remark that Spot is not meant to be a weapon of intimidation. But still, the ACLU questions whether this sort of robot, which is somewhat emblematic of something resembling a police state, is for the greater good or not.
Regardless, Spot is now on leave from the state police, leaving us all plenty of time to figure out the morality and justice of the robot dog.
Image Via Wikimedia Commons