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If We Can't Hold Police Accountable, What Will Happen With Robocops?

No Kidding: Developers want to put this robot on the street by 2016. (Screen capture from YouTube video)

By BILL BERKOWITZ
Departments across the country, already involved in a hyper-militarized frenzy, may soon have another disquieting option at their fingertips; Robocops. The term Robocop first came into our collective consciousness with the release of the 1987 science fiction movie of the same name, written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner, and directed by Paul Verhoeven. The action movie revolved around the murder of a police officer who is then revived -- with his body replaced by artificial parts. The film’s broad-based dystopian vision included corporate malfeasance, gangsters running amuck, the media, gentrification, authoritarianism, greed, privatization, and capitalism, according to Wikipedia.

The "Telebot" in Action


The late Roger Ebert called the film "a thriller with a difference." In 2007, Entertainment Weekly named it the #14 in its list of the greatest action movie of all time. A year later, Empire magazine chose it as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, placing at #404, and The New York Times had it on its list of The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made. Last year’s RoboCop remake, while not nearly the critical success of the first film, brought in more that $240 million at the box office worldwide.

Here Comes Robocop

According to The Free Thought Project’s Justin Gardner, “By 2016, there will likely be a 6-foot tall police robot patrolling the streets and handing out parking tickets. The Telebot, developed by Florida International University’s Discovery Lab, has been field-tested and is undergoing final tune up."

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Don't Let the Spin Masters Fool You — The Robo Killer Cops Will Look More Like This:

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The Telebot has a “menacing look” to it, designed to “intimidate and display a sense of authority.” But, say project designers, they want the robot to be created so that it doesn’t deter small children from approaching it.

Last year, the Miami New Times reported that Florida International University’s Discovery Lab, led by Jong-Hoon Kim, Nagarajan Prabakar and Sundaraja Sitharama Iyengar, and staffed mostly by undergraduate students, has been working on the project for nearly two years. The project “developed and built a functional, mobile, and interactive robot specially designed to help disabled officers and veterans return to the field.”

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