Sunday, July 10, 2016

Shootings, an Armed Robot, Social Media and More

  • Last week, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana videos captured the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by police. In MinnesotaDiamond Reynolds streamed the aftermath of the fatal shooting of her fiancé Philando Castile.
  • Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said “The images we've seen this week are graphic and heartbreaking, and they shine a light on the fear that millions of members of our community live with every day. While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond's, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important -- and how far we still have to go.”
  • In Dallasfive police officers were fatally shot and seven other people were wounded. After hours of negotiations with a sniper, police deployed a Multifunction, Agile, Remote-Controlled Robot (MARCbot) to carry an explosive device near the shooter - which killed him. The incident may be the first lethal use of a robot by U.S. law enforcement and Dallas Police Chief David Brown said “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was ... Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger.”
  • Note: the MARCbot was initially designed to address life-threatening situations in Iraq.  Via the Pentagon’s 1033 surplus program, over 450 MARCbots have been deployed to law enforcement units across the U.S.
  • Tom Manger, head of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and chief of the Montgomery County, MD said “Since Ferguson, it seems like the media, in general, it feels like we’ve been under siege… I think police officers feel like there’s always somebody out there trying to get me in trouble, trying to catch me doing something, baiting me so they can be the next YouTube sensation. Every time they make an arrest, there’s three or four cellphones going. You can’t make an arrest, especially out in public, without people whipping out their cellphones.” 

MY TAKE
  • Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The world seldom believes the horror stories of history until they are documented via the mass media” and recent events illustrate that the mass media now includes anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection.
  • Also, police enforcement organizations will likely increase their use remote control and semi-autonomous solutions to perform their duties – which may trigger more concerns about privacy, and the rush to more automation may introduce a variety of unexpected outcomes.  

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