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Crime Robotics Hardware

Robots To Patrol South Korean Prisons 113

bukharin writes "As reported by various sites, South Korea is planning a trial of robotic prison guards in Pohang. The idea is that the robots will roll around the prison monitoring conditions inside the cells and communicate back to human guards if they detect a problem such as violence. Apparently the human guards are happy with the idea because they get to do less, especially overnight. And if you were worried about Skynet, you needn't be: according to Prof. Lee Baik-chul of Kyonggi University, who's running the trial, '... the robots are not terminators. Their job is not cracking down on violent prisoners. They are helpers.' Good to know."
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Robots To Patrol South Korean Prisons

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    thank god for asian robots. they are polite before the kill.

    • by Whiteox ( 919863 )

      I have no opinion about this.

      • I have no opinion about this.

        Thanks for the info.

        • by Whiteox ( 919863 )

          FYI: It's a new movement. To satisfy the subjective feelings of obligation when presented with a reply button or submit box on the myriad of websites out there, as well as confusing the hell out of others, entering 'I have no opinion" etc is the way to go:
          It satisfies the need to respond.
          It takes almost no thought.
          You fill in the blank, therefore you have contributed.
          Others may respond, thus making you feel somewhat valuable.
          Try it. There is a new Facebook page: Search for 'I have no opinion'

          Good luck!

    • This almost sounds like Styx, but with Korean robots.
  • by harvey the nerd ( 582806 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @08:51PM (#38162146)
    Terminator hardware and designs are evolving in the US and Israel, with handy trial areas in Iraq, Afganistan and Israel's neighborhood.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @08:53PM (#38162160) Homepage Journal

    Why not just put up cameras everywhere?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, 2011 @08:55PM (#38162180)

      because cameras cannot be converted to terminators

      • because cameras cannot be converted to terminators

        Exactly! Did nobody watch the movie? Cameras are inanimate, and don't travel back in time! Moreover, even if they did, do we really want webcams on tripods with mounted loudspeakers prowling the streets asking "are you Sarah Connor?"

      • by teslar ( 706653 )

        root@skynet:~$tail /var/log/worlddominationprogress.log | grep WW
        (WW) Human may have identified true purpose of PrisonBot trial (
        root@skynet:~$terminator --dispatch --to-address `locate "Anonymous Coward" | grep 38162180`

        (No points for pointing out abuse of locate or silly use of tail on this one)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because cameras aren't usually mobile? And thus people can hide things in dead angles?

      Hell, you said it yourself that they're mobile cameras. Why not just make them look humanoid so people feel more antsy about doing things in front of them?

      It's probably just me, but if some robot is starting at me, I'm probably LESS likely to do something secretive than if there's just a camera up in the corner.

      • PTZ FTW

        • Unless PTZ stands for Perambulate, Trundle and Zip-along, or unless you're setting up a true circular Panopticon, there will still be places it can't see. Which is anywhere that there is a non-transparent solid object between the camera and the outer building wall.

      • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:25PM (#38162376)

        Because cameras aren't usually mobile? And thus people can hide things in dead angles?

        If there are dead zones, the camera system installer did not do their job correctly.

        The robot cannot enter a prisoner's cell when the door is closed. At night all doors are closed and locked. So, at night, the robot will have large dead zones; fixed cameras (which could be IR sensitive) would have no such problems.

        Robots need to move around for full coverage. Prisoners will act completely normal when the robot is near, and go back to doing whatever once it has gone. Robots are louder and more easily avoided than a good guard in tennis shoes.

        And, for the price of one robot, you can buy a lot of fixed cameras, which require a lot less maintenance. The cameras work 24/7/365, but the robots will have down time for charging.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          Robots need to move around for full coverage. Prisoners will act completely normal when the robot is near, and go back to doing whatever once it has gone. Robots are louder and more easily avoided than a good guard in tennis shoes.

          That probably depends on how many robots are patrolling though. If there are a fairly large number on patrol and if they patrol at somewhat random intervals, that could set prisoners on edge that they will be caught, and it might actually work in a thoughtcrime sense that maybe p

        • Yes, robots would cost more than simply installing more cameras. But for shits and giggles, lets say the prison now breaks out in a massive riot. how hard would it be to simply strap a few cans of tear gas, pepper spray, whatever non-leathal means of stopping the riot, to the robot, roll it on in the room(s) and deploy the gas.

          Now after the first use like this, now I v2.0 of the robot with an internal cylinder of said gas, with a nozel that leads out the front of the robot, and a guard sitting behind a moni

          • Who actually cares if the prison breaks out in a riot? Pull the guards back to the perimeter, and wait them out. With no food/supplies going in, the riot will come to an end eventually. If the rioters can cause damage to anything you didn't build your prison very well.

            Or, just plumb in some gas pipe alongside the sprinkler system, and send sleeping gas through the entire facility.

            The idea of an autonomous robot with cameras and potentially pepper spray would be fine in an outdoor, public situation - b
      • Umm, a moving camera just has changing dead angles over a span of time. If that was the concern then using more cameras would be a better and cheaper solution.
  • Why is it that the east just seems to be so far ahead of the west with this sort of stuff? I mean, we just seem so reluctant to adopt cool new tech. This stuff is the future, but (in the UK at least) we just seem to be getting left behind!
    • Different priorities and needs. In Asia, there's a significantly larger need for things like in home care than in the US. In the US we're graying, but the bulge is pretty minor compared with the drop off you see in China or even Japan.

      Also, they were more optimistic about figuring out how to prevent robots from eating old people's medicines.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:00PM (#38162230)
    If robots are able to make it way cheaper to house a prisoner then politicians will have little to restrain them from passing more laws that can send you to prison. It is very hard for a politician to make much headway reducing penalties but it is a no-brainer for them to be "tough on crime".

    TOS violation 10 years.
    Download music 10 years
    Take a picture of a cop 10 years
    Insult a politician 10 years
    Parking violation not paid on time 90 days.
    Kid misses a day in school 90 days
    Insult your neigbour 10 years
    Not feed your cat on time 10 years

    You think that some special interest group wouldn't push for the above stupid penalties?
    • not only that prisons don't have the room to house that many in mates anyways and guards are only part of the costs and the robots have a lot they can't do.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      Oh come on. You really think a politician could pass any of those laws without getting voted out? That goes beyond mere exaggeration to outright paranoia. If you believe what you wrote, you should seek counseling.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:25PM (#38162630)

        Oh come on. You really think a politician could pass any of those laws without getting voted out? That goes beyond mere exaggeration to outright paranoia. If you believe what you wrote, you should seek counseling.

        They passed the 3-strikes law and no one was voted out of office.

        What isn't obvious to most, your 3 strikes can happen with one charge, it doesn't have to be repeat charges at all.

        The list of "serious" crimes originally stated to get it passed has been extended to any criminal offense.

        Recall the catch-all charge of "resisting arrest"? And how it has been repeatedly applied to people clearly not resisting anything nor under arrest.
        Even people having seizures have been charged with resisting arrest and had it upheld until the appeals court a year later.

        If three police officers are present when one of them decides to fuck you, you just committed 3 resisting arrest offenses in one charge, which has a mandatory required life-time prison sentence.

        People just like you stated that law would never be abused as it's only for serious crimes!
        If you can't see past those lies, it is not anyone else who needs counseling... Especially with so many cases that prove it has happened every time such a law comes up.

        Mandatory life time prison sentence for pissing off one cop while two others are present. No one got voted out of office for it.

        Law has been this way for hundreds of years. Why do you think this one single case would be any different? Extraordinary claims you are making and all that...

    • If it's cheaper to the government, then it's also less profitable for the prison. I think that roboguards would lead to a reversal of that trend, and therefore not catch on in the US.

      Also, you can still shank a robot, you just need a sharper toothbrush. Maybe something made out of robot parts.

    • Especially with so many politicians owning private prisons these days...they could build robot-managed "megaprisons" and have us all manning the call centers there.

  • Then use them for parts to escape after hatching a plan based on their incredibly predictable location.

  • precaution (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:06PM (#38162278)

    Actual note in robot developers notebook: Must remember to cover the switches on their backs with tape so that no one can accidently flick it to "EVIL" setting.

  • by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:13PM (#38162318)

    How happy will they be when someone realizes they aren't needed anymore?

    Haven't read much of this book yet, but it appears to be relevant. And it is a free download. []

    • We're not likely to ever get there. Mostly because that would have other problems that are much more serious to worry about. As long as robots have to be told what to do and how to react things are fine. The problem is that in order to replace the guards they would have to make the things autonomous and that's potentially very worrying. You'd have to be really certain that the AI had been program correctly otherwise there's all sorts of hell to break loose.

      • I'm not seeing why you would need the same number of guards you had patrolling the halls when robots are patrolling the halls instead. Some of the guards will still be needed, but not nearly as many as were needed before.

        • Because you don't staff guards like that. Keep in mind that this is a prison which means that you have to have sufficient guards to deal with whatever happens. Waiting for outside help is generally not reasonable except under extraordinary circumstances. You might be able to get by with fewer guards on rove, but you're not going to be able to cut any as you still have to have them there for when the robots break or when something starts.

          In the US where we have more concern for money than human life it might

    • The guards that aren't single-minded sociopaths looking for power will likely get out while they can. Most thugs aren't smart enough to think that far into the future, or will stick with it so that they can kick back and still beat the shit out of people when they feel like it.
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:19PM (#38162342)

    Spent two years working with prisons of every kind early in my tech career, I've probably worked with a third of the prisons federal and state for both the US and Canada. These are not environments where privacy is a good thing.

    This is a very good thing for prisoners because a robot can't be bribed, threatened or tricked the same way a human can. Prison is a very ugly thing, violence, extortion and rape are very real threats that can happen daily. It also reduces the risk for the officers that are greatly outnumbered. Frankly it would be best for these robots to do well and become another export, we could certainly use them over here.

    • less guards = easyer to riot and can they look for hidden weapons prisoners are very good at makeing them out of just about any thing and they hide them in hard to find spots.

    • Can the robots smell the inmates toking up after lights out and report it? ... to the guards who are toking up because now they don't have to make rounds as often?
      • Can the robots smell the inmates toking up after lights out and report it? ... to the guards who are toking up because now they don't have to make rounds as often?

        A mobile sensor would be more effective than a fixed one in policing "The Joint."

  • Fair Wage (Score:5, Funny)

    by McDrewbie ( 530348 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:26PM (#38162382)
    Will the robots be paid a fair wage? Robots are not our slaves.
    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I'll agree with you when the robot will argue the question.

    • Robots actually are our slaves. They are neither self aware, or human. It is only illegal to own human slaves.

      Your point is moot.

      • by Lockyy ( 2486084 )
        And what happens when they are self-aware? I wonder how long it will be after that happens before they get proper 'human rights' Would it become illegal to shut them down? Would it become a legal requirement to look after and repair any robot you own? Or would they be expected to pay for their own repairs if abandoned? I'm really rambling at this point...
  • prisons will find a way to slow down or gum up the works on the robots and likely it will be some low tech way of doing it.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      How about leaving gum on the floor to get caught in the robot's wheels/treads while they're doing their rounds?

  • Got it all wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 24, 2011 @09:36PM (#38162422)

    Make the prisoners robotic instead, and employ people to watch them. This will not only be good for the economy, it will get all the innocent people out of jail.

  • by Cyko_01 ( 1092499 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @10:40PM (#38162710) Homepage
    ok, I understand that the police officers are lazy, and that the robots will alert the officers if there is a problem but think of the effects of this. If a inmate gets stabbed by another inmate and is bleeding profusely the robot has to alert the police officer and the officer needs to put down his donut and come down to that location ASAP. In a critical situation such as this time is of the essence and a few seconds, never-mind minutes, can be the difference between life and death. Using robot patrols allows the inmates to do more damage before the officer arrives and they are restrained
    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Or the robots may locate an inmate bleeding on the floor before a foot patrol passes. This could also shorten the response time.

      • according to the article they are meant to replace the officers, not act as additional staff. unless there are more robots then staff, this is not faster then if an officer walked by and responded immediately
    • by Lockyy ( 2486084 )
      A couple canisters in every cell/room that releases a gas to knock people out. Robot detects violence? canisters are released, where is the amount of people in the room.
      • yea, right, those would never be abused by the inmates.
        • by Lockyy ( 2486084 )
          Because clearly you'd have them wireless and rolling around in the centre of the room and not embedded in the concrete walls with a vent for the gas to come out of that they can't get the canisters out of?
  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Thursday November 24, 2011 @11:16PM (#38162876)

    Out comes the shiv... ED 209 springs into action:

    "Please put down your weapon! You have twenty seconds to comply!"

  • ... are EMP grenades
  • Oh, like THX1138?
  • with gun and camera options. Oh, and it's large--the dustbin hold is spacious enough to hold a corpse.
  • For those who are interested, there is a kind of prison architecture that allows the prisoners to think that they are being watched all the time: []

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The first law of robotics will prevent the robots from reporting the attacker, because the punishment will be getting tossed into solitary; solitary will bring harm (psychological at the least) upon him. Therefore, when a robot sees a conflict, the paradox of having to harm one human or not acting and having another human be harmed as a result of its inaction will make it explode. They should have consulted a qualified robopsychologist before undertaking this project.
    • by Lockyy ( 2486084 )
      A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. I assume it prioritizes immediate physical harm over putting someone in solitary. Otherwise it would violate the other half of the law via inaction. A black and white morality in the three laws just wouldn't suit any robot in any situation. Harm is far too broad a term to be useful anyway. Does my robot constantly jump to my aid before I stub my toe? Because god damnit I'd throw it out of a window after a few da
  • Rather than build robots to guard prisons, why not just get the robots to do the boring work outside instead of imprisoning people for not wanting to do the work (and stealing, selling drugs, etc. for money)? []

    We need "A Newer Way Of Thinking": []

    Where this may all be leading, Marshall Brain's "Manna": []

    Why not just have a "basic income" instead, funded by a tax on robotic fac

  • Beware geeks bearing gifts.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972