"Digidog is out of the pound."
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has decided to unleash Digidog, a controversial robodog, into the hands of the NYPD. Yes, that Digidog, the one that was already shamed off of public steets due to mass public outrage.
The Boston Dynamics-built Digidog — also known as Spot — was originally deployed into New York City streets back in 2020, when the city's former mayor, Bill de Blasio, okayed them for use by the NYPD. Public outrage was swift, with residents labeling the surveillance bots as creepy and invasive. De Blasio, in response to the widespread backlash, ultimately reversed the decision.
Now, though, it's free again.
"Digidog is out of the pound," Adams, a former police officer, said during a Times Square press conference, according to the Associated Press. "Digidog is now part of the toolkit that we are using."
"A few loud people were opposed to it and we took a step back," Adams continued, reportedly comparing the police tech to floor-cleaning Roombas. "That is not how I operate. I operate on looking at what's best for the city."
Per the AP, Adams underscored his support for the dog by listing some of its capabilities, explaining that it'll be used for reconnaissance in potentially dangerous situations. You know, like Roombas.
Adams didn't appear to touch on the potential surveillance aspect of the Digidogs, which tends to be the biggest criticism with these machines. But he did note that in addition to Digidog, the NYPD will also be deploying Knightscope's intelligence-collecting K5 ASR bots — described by its creators as a "fully autonomous outdoor security robot" — in New York Subway stations, in addition to a StarChase GPS-tracking technology dubbed Guardian HX. (Neither of which, of course, feel particularly non-surveillance-like.)
Not a Roomba
Backlash has, once again, been swift.
“We're left to concoct a narrative about what this technology can and can't do, what risks it presents, what mitigation of those risks is in place, but we have no hard information," Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times, arguing that the NYPD tends to lack of transparency when it comes to the use and function of new technologies. "And all we're left with is Digidog running around town as this dystopian surveillance machine of questionable value and quite potentially serious privacy consequences."
"The NYPD is turning bad science fiction into terrible policing," added Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. "New York deserves real safety, not a knockoff RoboCop."
READ MORE: RoboCop? No, RoboDog: Robotic dog rejoins New York police [Associated Press]
More on Digidog: After Public Rage, NYPD Secretly Fires Robot Dog
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