Popular Left-wing U.S. politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, widely known by her moniker AOC, chose to condemn the New York Police Department (NYPD) for utilizing and testing a robot dog in a low-income neighborhood. Low-income neighborhoods in America, especially in New York, are usually dominated by Non-white people, like African Americans or Hispanics. Therefore, AOC termed NYPD’s move to use the robot dog, Digidog, as racist in a series of tweets on Thursday.
‘Shout out to everyone who fought against community advocates who demanded these resources go to investments like school counseling instead,’ AOC tweeted sarcastically. In a follow-up tweet, AOC rues the lack of next gen technology which can help lower income under-served communities achieve education, healthcare etc. Overall, AOC’s criticism of the NYPD for employing Digidog seemingly stems out from Digidog being utilized in a poor minority non-white community and also for not utilizing resources effectively for issues like education, housing, healthcare etc.
Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 25, 2021
Digidog was developed by Boston Dynamics, an engineering and robotics company which is a research spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). Boston Dynamics is owned by the Hyundai Motor Group. Digidog, worth around $75,000, became a part of the NYPD last year. Digidog is black and blue in colors, just like the colors of the NYPD. Digidog weighs around 31 KG, is equipped with lights, can facilitate two-way communication, and has video cameras, the NYPD said.
The function of Digidog is to search a particular area through utilizing its cameras and then send back real time footage to the police officers. In order to perform this function, Digidog also features a unique A.I. which allows the robot dog to navigate on its own. On top of all this, Digidog can also climb stairs, see in the dark, and run at a speed of approximately 5.6 KM/hour. Digidog is specifically designed for emergency situations which would be too dangerous for police officers.
Currently, Digidog is undergoing testing by the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit. Digidog has been deployed in a home invasion situation perpetrated by two assailants, during which Digidog’s role was to be the eyes of the police officers inside the invaded house in order to make sure whether the assailants were still inside or had fled. Digidog has also been utilized in finding a gunman hiding in a basement in Brooklyn, followed by a hostage situation in Queens. Digidog has proven to be an effective tool for the NYPD.
The NYPD did not issue a direct response to AOC, however the news account of the NYPD on Twitter did make a comment on Digidog, “The NYPD has been using robots since the 1970’s to save lives in hostage situations & hazmat incidents. This model of robot is being tested to evaluate its capabilities against other models in use by our Emergency Service Unit and Bomb Squad.”
The NYPD has been using robots since the 1970’s to save lives in hostage situations & hazmat incidents. This model of robot is being tested to evaluate its capabilities against other models in use by our Emergency Service Unit and Bomb Squad. https://t.co/134Xl0ezox— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) February 25, 2021
According to Keith Taylor, a former NYPD SWAT team sergeant, the Digidog has a ‘tremendous potential’ to limit injuries and fatalities for police officers and criminals. ‘It’s important to question police authority, however this appears to be pretty straightforward,’ he said. ‘It is designed to help law enforcement get the information they need without having a deadly firefight, for instance.’
It would make sense that a robot dog whose main function is to infiltrate places and provide police officers with more information, will result in saving of more lives. The more information the police have about a particular assailant, including his location in the property, his weapon of choice, his demeanor, etc. the better the Police will able to deal with it.
There are some instances of police officers utilizing technology in order to save lives. For example, in 2015, a man with a knife threatened to jump off a bridge in San Jose, California. The distressed person was calmed down and brought back safely because the police was able to provide the disturbed man with a cellphone and slice of pizza through utilizing a robot. In another instance in Albuquerque, New Mexico a robot was used to ‘deploy chemical munitions’ into a motel room where a man had barricaded himself with a gun. The man later surrendered without incident.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is infamous for her usage of identity politics. Her particular brand of ‘wokeness’, which is now mainstream in the Democratic Party, has led to a rise of racial terms and rhetoric being used in American politics, especially terms like PoC (People of Color) which basically means anyone who is non-white.
This sort of rhetoric, which has been gathering momentum ever since Trump’s election in 2016, came to a head with the George Floyd riots of Summer 2020 which saw widespread destruction, looting and rioting in multiple American cities, along with a protest movement demanding racial justice. AOC’s move of trying to make even the testing of a robot dog by the NYPD a racial issue speaks to just how bankrupt mainstream progressive ideology is in America.