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Yesterday, we were talking about Google Street View. So, the segue to today’s topic is pretty seamless.

There’s been plenty of reporting on the prison robots designed and now being trialled in South Korea. This simple breakdown of info on these over-sized dehumidifiers is as good of a place to start than anywhere.

Lets be honest, these storm-trooping bread-makers are weird but they’re a pretty clumsy use of technology. Yesterday, I deleted my Linked In account, at the weekend I was talking about nuclear war initiated by software viruses (a la Stuxnet). I mean to say that, if we’re thinking about technologies, digital footprints and code-based (non-physical) manifestations of monitoring and interaction are far more pervasive, instant, destabilising and effective ways to intervene in – and disrupt – the world. These stupid, pearly-white ionisers on wheels deserve nothing but mockery.

No matter how good their 3-D cameras and behaviour analysis softwares are, the damn thing still turns its back like a human prison guard. Why doesn’t it employ 360 degrees imaging?

The thing looks ridiculous. It will never work. Prisoners will take the first opportunity to kick the shit out of it … and so they should. In such a scenario, would disciplinary sanctions against a prisoner for vandalising a robot be dealt with in the same way the authority might punish a prisoner for an assault on a prison guard?

The isolation of solitary confinement destroys people; the threat and the psychological isolation of prisoners damages people; unhealthy and inhumane relations with gang-affiliated prisoners and/or stressed, possibly abusive or indifferent, officers damages people. If we expect prisoners to rehabilitate themselves we need to prepare them for reentry into majority society, not subject them to sci-fi distopia surveillance for the sake of saving a buck.

This is market economics gone mad. A product with a cost and with a projected cost-saving. At nearly a million bones a pop I hope they’re dismantled very rapidly by any prisoner class that encounters them. It wouldn’t be vandalism it’d be a service to humanity.


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