Last month we talked about how Singapore was deploying police robots in public areas to “keep an eye” on the people and even give them a lecture of two for not following the proper COVID-19 SOPs in public. The robot cops named Xavier, were introduced by Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology to serve as helping hands to the law enforcement and even provide intelligence on areas not accessible by human cops. But it seems like people are not happy being judged by a robocop….
The two robots were tasked with patrolling the streets and making sure that residents parked their bicycles in the right place, smoked only in designated areas, and were following proper protocols. But it looks like the robots took it too far, so much so that they started disciplining innocent elderly bystanders and blurted out, “Please keep one-meter distancing, please keep to five persons per group.”
Local media reported how people were annoyed by the new experience as it reminded them of “Robocop” and living in a “dystopian world.” “It all contributes to the sense people… need to watch what they say and what they do in Singapore to a far greater extent than they would in other countries,” activist Lee Yi Ting told AFP.
The people living in Singapore are not wrong as the country has a strict surveillance policy for its residents, even sending COVID-related contact-tracing data to the police last year which resulted in a fierce backlash from people. In September, officials also deployed robot dogs in public parks which resulted in a similar reaction. And now these robocops are on everyone’s ‘hit list’. According to officials, the robots are not actually identifying offenders during the trial and are just used as an alternative since law enforcement is struggling with a shortage of patrol officers for the time being.
Needless to say, our world is slowly turning into a Black Mirror episode, day by day.