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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 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 @09:00PM (#38162226)

    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.

  • 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?
  • 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. []

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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...

  • by SocratesJedi ( 986460 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @01:37AM (#38163440) Homepage
    Are you kidding me? All human lives are valuable, without exception. Any other belief is, frankly, uncivilized and reeks of a primitive us-versus-them mentality. What's worse is that prisoners are explicitly under the protection of the state. If an unarmed prisoner is injured in an act of violence, it ought to be interpreted as a total fuck-up and a warden had better lose his job.
  • by olau ( 314197 ) on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:07AM (#38164640) Homepage

    This sort of thinking is usually cured at the moment the pipe connects with the occipital bone while having your laptop/wallet/cellphone/car stolen.

    Which is why civilized countries have a system of courts for determining punishment. Because somebody was clever enough to realize that feelings of revenge should not cloud a decision of imprisonment.

    Some men are feral. Whether by choice (misanthropes) or training (via our welfare state) they are indeed primitive and irredeemable.

    Actually, I think you're right. In Denmark where the maximum penalty is 14 years in prison (I believe), there is a special provision for lifetime prison for people who are judged to be too dangerous to let out. Even here, the case must reevaluated.

    However, this is an extremely small minority. For the rest, this kind of thinking just makes it harder to turn the criminals into productive members of society.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."