GOOD

Robot Security Guards Are Patrolling Silicon Valley, Collecting Data

Surveillance is being outsourced to the machines.

Welcome to Silicon Valley, home to the progenitors of our dystopian future, where you may now witness robot security guards patrolling the campuses of your favorite tech company. The 5-foot-tall autonomous machines are the product of Knightscope, a company whose founders suffered some failures in 2012. They’re rebounding with K5, a security robot that is equipped with a camera and sensors, and roves around gathering and analyzing data about activity happening within the area. The small robots, which look like 21-century Daleks, are intended for use on college campuses, in corporate buildings, and in malls.


“The vast majority of people see it and go, ‘Oh my God, that’s so cute.’ We’ve had people go up and hug it, and embrace it for whatever reason,” said Knightscope co-founder Stacy Stephens to CBS San Francisco. “Cute” is not a word I’d normally associate with a symbol of the surveillance state, but at least our new robot overlords are adorable to look at. Knightscope is keen to head off comparisons to Whovian villains, instead insisting the aesthetic inspiration comes from R2D2. In a demonstration video unsettlingly titled “Data Is Never Big Enough,” they call K5 an “autonomous data machine”—a phrase that might send chills down your spine or put a twinkle in your eye, depending on which side of the impending class war you fall on.

Knightscope says the robot is designed to “avoid confrontation”—if it encounters what it perceives as a credible threat, it will emit a series of alarm sounds that get progressively louder as the threat persists, and alert the control center. If it detects a robbery, it will collect information about its surroundings. “The robot is looking at the video, listening for glass breakage, any loud sound that breaking in would cause,” Stephens told CBS San Francisco. “We’ll get the license plate, picture of the vehicle, geotag location, and time.”

The robots are already patrolling an undisclosed location in Silicon Valley.

Articles
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet