Monday, 28 November 2011

South Korean Prison Robots “Will Not Overthrow Humanity”

South Korean prisons are to test a scheme where faceless robotic men keep guard over their human prisoners in a move that officials are calling “definitely not a chilling vision of things to come”.

The Eastern city of Pohang will be the first area to let robotic guards patrol its prisons, effectively letting the robots’ first sights to be that of humans in chains. The month long government trial of the three foot robots designed by police and prison research group the ‘Asian Forum for Corrections’ is set to end in March, assuming that the robots are willing to relinquish their control.

Emotionless automatons no cause for alarm

“I assure you, it’ll probably be totally fine” said the designer, Prof Lee Baik-Chu, “we built these to help. Plus we ensured that they have enough intelligence to understand us when we tell them the exact parameters of their jurisdiction. If that wasn’t enough, these are ‘learning computers’, so they gather information rapidly themselves. That means that if they do make any kind of mistake we can tell them about it and they can learn from that. There’s no need for fear. Anyway in the absolute worst case scenario I have a voice activated destruct code, so I can shut them all down remotely with my secret password. Of course if anything was to happen to me.....Nah, never mind. Now please stop sending me sci fi DVDs.”

The largest part of the robots’ duties will be during prison night shifts when chances of violence and suicide are at their highest. To combat this the robots will have an extensive array of sensors and cameras capable of detecting this risky behaviour. The completed models will be able to read human temperature, pulse, adrenalin level, fear level, the chances of compliance, pupil dilation and how much pain it would take to break a prisoner. Special night monitoring robots will watch over problem offenders as they sleep and through monitoring eye movement during REM sleep, will be able to map out an individual’s nightmares with an 88.9% success rate.

Though not built to directly discipline prisoners, the robots do have tools to ensure compliance. An internal database will allow the robot’s to first read out the names and addresses of all of the prisoner’s relatives in an eerie monotone, but on meeting further resistance the robot can deploy any of these counter measures:
-A high decibel alarm
-A nozzle that fires pepper spray
-The ‘hypno-ray’
-A boxing glove on a spring
-Crotch-level drill
-A compartment full of hornets
-A broken bottle on a spring

The state of the art robots will be deployed all across South Korea, then Asia, then the World if the costly initiative is deemed a success. Though having cost over £414m to develop the designers claim that they have kept costs lower by having the robots run off of meat instead of costly batteries or electricity, so instead of charging them, a simple hunk of animal matter is deposited into an energy conversion engine in the robot chassis.

Prof Baik-Chu is excited to begin, letting one of his robots and its roster of pre-programmed responses have the last word: “WE LOOK FORWARD TO WATCHING OVER THE HU-MANS”

Felix Prenderghast,
Senior Features Correspondent

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