Robots are replacing security guards. Should we give them guns?
Law enforcement considering arming robots capable of deadly force
AI technology seems to be finding its way into every industry from fast-food chains to delivering packages to automatic self-driving vehicles. Now, some companies are also incorporating AI security guards to keep their businesses safe. However, I'm not so sure these bots can be reliable. Let's see how the robot security experiments are turning into reality.
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How are these AI security guards being used?
These robot guards are being used mainly in office buildings and have various jobs. Leading the charge to populate these office buildings is Cobalt Robotics, a company that specializes in "artificial intelligence and robotic automation to handle mundane, important tasks..."
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Some of these tasks include things like patrolling office buildings for broken fire alarms, suspicious activity, and checking in visitors. The main reason that a lot of office buildings are beginning to use these robots over human beings is that it saves them a ton of money - roughly $79,000 per year, according to a report from Forrester Research. Although they can work longer hours and do multiple tasks, I don't know that I would trust this machine with any kind of weaponry in case of a malfunction. Let's go over the pros and cons of using this technology.
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What are the pros of having AI security guards?
One big pro of AI security guards is that they might be able to detect more danger than a security camera or even a human being can. They cannot get tired or distracted, and it would be safer for them to confront intruders than to risk the life of a human security guard.
Another perk is the two-way communication system that some of these robots are being designed with. Employees can report an issue directly to the bot, or if they'd rather deal with a human and can't find one, they can request human presence to the robot, and it will alert the proper department.
More specifically, the Cobalt Robotics security guard is designed with fabric and can pass for high-end furniture, so an intruder may not even realize at first glance that it is a security guard watching them. This might be a clever design that other companies may take note from as to keep the security guard more in disguise.
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What are the cons of having AI security guards?
One con is that human security guards may lose their jobs. However, it can be argued that human beings can always be designated to do other jobs, such as fixing the AI technology if it malfunctions or coming in to handle an issue if an employee does not want to go through the robot.
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And the con that I am concerned with the most is this technology malfunctioning. We've seen AI technology malfunction all the time, whether it be something like ChatGPT saying the wrong thing or the self-service machine at McDonald's being out of service. Plus, there hasn't been much detail about if these robots can actually prevent crime. Security guards are meant to keep people in a designated building safe, so I'm a little hesitant to put all our trust in AI bots until companies are certain that they're the safest option and won't malfunction in times of need.
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Arming robots with guns
The San Francisco Police Department has proposed a policy that would allow robots to be armed and they could even use deadly force if there was a situation extreme enough where the public or the police are in imminent danger. While their policy was denied, the police department has said they are interested in putting it back on the table.
So that poses the question: should we trust robots to carry weapons instead of paying a human to do the job? Let us know your thoughts.
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