In the News
I recently consulted with the US Navy on all things “transhuman.” In those conversations about how science and technology can help the human race evolve beyond its natural limits, it was clear that military is keen on replacing human soldiers with both fighting and peacekeeping machines so American military lives never have to come under fire or be in harm’s way.
However, it’s the peacekeeping technology that is particularly interesting for many civilians. While you wouldn’t want an armed Terminator in your home, you might like a robot that travels with you and offers personal protection, like a bodyguard. In a survey by Travelzoo of 6,000 participants, nearly 80 percent of people said they expect robots to be a significant part of their lives by 2020 — and that those robots might even join them on holidays.
The robotics industry is already considering this, and recently debuted some security models. A few months ago China came out with its Anbot, which can taser people and be used for riot control. And South Korea already uses mobile robot guards in its prisons. Even in San Francisco, you can rent out robot guards to protect your businesses and property. However, the rent-a-robot company, Knightscope, recently came under fire for accidentally running over a toddler at the Stanford Shopping Center.
Needless to say, problems are expected as the burgeoning field of robot-human interaction evolves. The good news is, there’s already years of information to draw on. Human-robot interaction and protection have been here in the form of robotic dogs for nearly a decade. There are dozens of different brands and models available — some of which offer motion detector warnings to protect against burglars and can be programmed to bark at intruders. While some will say robot pets are no more efficient than well-placed cameras, microphones, or speakers, they do offer genuine and personal protection for consumers – not to mention a sense of novelty and enjoyment.
Of course, it’s not just robots that offer personal security. Security drones, which can follow you while mountain biking in the forest or your child walking to school, are already here. And driverless cars that take college students from a bar to their homes are just months away from hitting the market. Even personal residences are now being wired with basic AI intelligent systems — including fire alarms — that can communicate with residents and alert police if something is wrong. Some apps on smartphones, like SafeTrek, alert authorities if a held phone is dropped. This can be especially useful if you’re walking in a dangerous area late at night.
The age of near-total robot security protection will likely be here in...