ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A report commissioned by the Federal Government into future public health compliance has suggested that the introduction of a Singapore-style autonomous robot snitch would only have a negative outcome for the environment and taxpayers.

In recent weeks, a number of robots have been patrolling the streets of Singapore and accosting citizens who have the unfounded panache to go about town without a mask on.

The robots have also been deployed to stop people from standing too close together. If the people are not compliant, the robot sends their picture to the police who will come and flog them with those kendo stick things they carry over there.

However, the report suggests that if the same program were started here, the robot snitches would end up in the nearest body of water within minutes.

Speaking to The Advocate today via Skype, the report’s chair explained that Australians have a love-hate relationship with snitching on their fellow citizens.

“Seeing someone break the rules is really annoying, especially if you’re making such an effort in compliance yourself,” said Professor Doug Shand from the Robotics department of the nation’s peak scientific body, the CSRIO.

“But picking up the phone to call the police to rat on someone simply having a fun time while perhaps breaking a few laws that are stupid is also heavily frowned upon. Like those people over 50 who call the police on kids letting off bungas,”

“So this robot, while some would support its introduction. We found that, say for example, it was patrolling the many delightful walkways of the Brisbane River one afternoon. Sure, Queenslanders enjoy breaking rules as it comes second nature to them. Having this stupid robot say, ‘Beep beep! Put your mask on! Beep beep’ would only make things worse and it would be pushed over the rail into the river by youths and everyone would laugh as the million-dollar machine shorts itself to death in the turbid water,”

“It’s in our collective blood to stick it to those who have and those who seek to have power. They’re not only pushing a robot into the river, they’re pushing authority into the River,”

“But in saying that, imagine if you saw a policeman on a pushbike not see a step and go flying over the handlebars. Yes, it would be pretty funny but if he was hurt, you’d help him give him the shirt off your back,”

“That is the dichotomy of the Australian.”

More to come.


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