By most indications, autonomous vehicles will revolutionize transportation in the next few decades on a level similar to the revolutions brought about by the invention of the automobile and the airplane. Artificial intelligence and next-generation sensors will allow autonomous vehicles to operate with a level of safety and precision far out of the reach of us clumsy, reeking meatsacks. While I generally tend to fear welcoming artificial intelligence into our daily lives, the oncoming self-driving vehicle revolution will likely have all sorts of positive benefits for humankind - that is until the proverbial They turn the technology into yet another boot stamping on a human face forever.
Speaking of which, Ford Motor Company has recently filed a patent for a fully autonomous police vehicle controlled by artificial intelligence which is capable of arresting human beings. The vehicles will be equipped with sensors and communication equipment which not only allow it to detect violations directly, but also be notified of violations witnessed by other autonomous vehicle snitches. Say it with me now: What could go wrong?
According to the patent application, the Ford
Punishbot Friendbot will be controlled by an AI processor which has the autonomy to identify and chase down violators on its own:
A method may involve a processor associated with an autonomous vehicle obtaining an indication of violation of one or more traffic laws by a first vehicle. The method may also involve the processor maneuvering the autonomous vehicle to pursue the first vehicle.
After the robocop car detects a violation made by a vehicle, the technology “may further involve the processor remotely executing one more actions with respect to [that] vehicle.” The patent also states that “many modifications and variations are possible” with the platform, leaving open the possibility for any types of payloads or upgrades.
See, it’s this kind of ambiguous, open-to-interpretation language that makes such a patent application terrifying. What kind of “actions” could such a police car execute? Will they be eventually equipped with weapons? Will robotic assistants eventually ride along to help detain unruly perpetrators with their cold, metal hands? See where this is going? Oh well. Humanity had a good run. Get used to the taste of boots now. Personally, I prefer the earthy zing of a nice new Vibram sole. It pairs well with the bitter aftertaste of realizing it's already too late to stop society's slide into a dystopian hellhole.