Robotics in commentary & editorials

The Loss of Human Control: Dystopia Is Upon Us

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By Paul Craig Roberts

Robocop unleashed

That the government of San Francisco, America’s most liberal city, on November 29, 2022 by a vote of 8 to 3, authorized robots to have life or death authority over citizens indicates the extent to which Americans have been dehumanized. Perhaps this dehumanization is the consequence of many decades of Washington slaughtering people from Vietnam through Serbia, Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa to Ukraine. Having blown up villages, weddings, funerals, children’s soccer games, medical centers, farmers, and countless women and children, it is not a big step to siccing killer robots on citizens.

Another reason for this development is the likely payment of bribes to the San Francisco government by Artificial Intelligence corporations that want to develop a market for their AI products. Robots have an upfront cost, but unlike policemen do not have to be paid salaries and provided with health care and retirement pensions. Substituting robots for police officers will be hyped as a cost reduction measure. The fact that it is the final dehumanization will go unnoticed by people determined to line their own pockets.

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Give the digital revolution a minute of thought. I have written that the digital revolution, which provides us contact with the world from wherever we are, is the worst disaster that has happened to humanity. The digital revolution has given governments spy and control powers over people far beyond the capabilities of Big Brother in George Orwell’s dystopia, 1984. Now we have a government empowering robots to kill humans who have not been arrested, indicted, tried, and convicted. That humans would convey such authority over themselves to robots begins the transformation of human life into conformity with dystopian science fiction novels and movies such as Terminator.

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Courtesy of Shutterstock Author: Alexandre Rotenberg

There is no reason to open this door. The San Francisco police do not need killer robots. There is nothing happening in San Francisco that is beyond the ability of the highly militarized SWAT teams to handle and subdue. It is not clear that San Francisco even needs SWAT teams. SWAT teams themselves and their lack of restraint mark a bad turning in policing. There were no SWAT teams until the later years of my adult life. Their main use has been to gratuitously break into homes, causing home damage, human injury and death, often of innocent people resulting from the SWAT team going to an incorrect address.

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If the control of crime now requires SWAT teams, it speaks to the decline in the morality and discipline of the society. SWAT teams treat symptoms, not causes. Why has the morality and discipline of society diminished to the point that military force is needed in civilian policing?

In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the liberals. They have destroyed religious belief that constrained the evil in people. They have destroyed the responsibility of the individual, who can blame parents, racism, society for his or her bad behavior. It is the liberals who unleashed the Satanic elements that civilization had held in check. It is the liberals who are the destroyers of civilization.

And that is what the liberals have done.

Paul Craig Roberts is an economist and author. He was the United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Ronald Reagan and – after leaving government – held the William E. Simon chair in economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for ten years and served on several corporate boards. A former associate editor at The Wall Street Journal, his articles have also appeared in The New York Times and Harper’s, and he is the author of more than a dozen books and a number of peer-reviewed papers.

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