Robotic police dogs: Useful hounds or dehumanizing machines?

By MATT O'BRIEN and JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — If you're homeless and looking for temporary shelter in Hawaii's capital, expect a visit from a robotic police dog that will scan your eye to make sure you don't have a fever.

That's one way public safety agencies are using Spot, the best-known of a new commercial category of robots that trot around with animal-like agility.

Police officials experimenting with the four-legged machines say they're just another tool, like drones or simpler wheeled robots, to keep emergency responders out of harm's way.

But privacy watchdogs — the human kind — warn that police aren't setting safeguards against aggressive, invasive or dehumanizing uses.

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