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Security uber alles
Published on August 24, 2014 By Phil Osborn In Tech Talk

Great idea, guys!   Looks like a natural for group shares, treasure hunts, as well as experimental governmental style services, such as ride-alongs for cops.   The infobot could give the officer an extra set of eyes and ears, freeing him or her up to apprehend or investigate, interviewing witnesses, etc. 

It would be ironic indeed, however, to see info-bots randomly distributed around the country, while cities no longer offer what used to be considered essential public services – restrooms, water fountains, etc.  The removal of these once-ubiquitous services has placed a heavy burden on not just the homeless, but also the senior. low-income and disabled populations, who are now typically required to buy a meal at a pricey restaurant just to use the restroom or drink a little water – effectively segregatiing them from the downtown.  Of course, having infobots scattered throughout a downtown might at least make it more possible to find such necessities.   It could also be useful as a park nanny-bot, telling stories that involved the listening kids by name and whatever info was available to personalize the story or conversation to relate to them personally or as a group.

Alas, there-in comes the rub.  Human hitchhiking in the U.S. was HUGE in the 60′s, with every freeway onramp hosting a crowd of would-be hitchers with their “San Jose or Bust” cardboards.  And, during that same era, a movement called VONU was quite popular, consisting largely of people living out of motor-homes, down to microbusses, people – often retired couples – who liked to wake up someplace new every day, who would take temporary jobs to pay their way and just EXPLORE.

Both the hitchhiking and the VONU movement disappeared because of crime and inconvenience.  As the homeless population grew, one way to get rid of them was to pass an ordinance against sleeping in a vehicle, which effectively killed VONU.  The really nasty criminals, meanwhile, were finding the hitchers easy targets.  So, hitching was outlawed.
So, how long before someone hacks the system of the park Nanny-Bot to get details on the participating kids, if only via a separate concealed pickup camera?

Again, how ironic that hitching would be back via this route.  What’s next?  Driverless vans that offer a mini-bedroom, complete with facilities and entertainment?  Assuming the parking problem was resolved and the cops couldn’t roust sleepers on private property, this would probably be shut down by the hotel lobby, but how convenient for “Burning Man” and similar venues.  

And, of course, there’s nothing preventing the drug dealers from sending stuff concealed in the torso of your friendly hitcher bot.   Who is then legally responsible?  As in the recent UPS and FedEx cases,  is one risking jailtime for picking up a hitcher bot?

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