January 26, 2023

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Singapore fears 'dystopia' with patrol robots |  Abroad

Singapore fears ‘dystopia’ with patrol robots | Abroad

Robots are in an arsenal of surveillance technologies that raise significant privacy concerns, the Guardian wrote. The small country has seen an “explosion” in government surveillance of citizens.

During an experiment in September, two robots scoured some streets and a shopping center for ‘socially undesirable behaviour’, such as smoking, parking incorrectly – and breaking distance rules.

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The government is a super-efficient, high-tech version of the “smart nation”, as it is called, but lately resistance has been growing. Activists are angry at the lack of privacy or anonymity.

Chess game

The new patrol robots have seven cameras. During the test, the robot “Xavier” approached a group of older men. Watch a chess match. From the robot it sounded “please stay one meter away and limit the group to five people”.

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Franny Teo, a 34-year-old researcher, also saw the robot while shopping. “It’s like a Robocop,” he says. Teo predicts “a dystopian world full of robots… I’d be a bit wary about such a future.”

wrong!  These caregivers do not keep their distance.

wrong! These caregivers do not keep their distance.


The government defends its policy because there are very few potential Boas available to do this work. “The workforce is already shrinking,” said official Aung Ka Hing. Privacy activist Li Yiting sees it differently. “All of this contributes to the feeling… that you have to be careful what you say and do in Singapore.”

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