Supreme Robot Sentience

Ari Shapiro on NPR reports today regarding the morning U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding a drug-sniffing dog sensing indoor drugs without a warrant from a house porch in “Supreme Court: Cops need a warrant..”  This is a fascinating first shot across an area of warrantless search that is about to become much more complex thanks to robotic sensing.  In their writeup, the justices noted that dogs have been domesticated for at least 12,000 years. Not so robots. And there is no natural boundary to just when a robot will be able to remotely sense illegal activities in a home- from the porch, from up above in a drone or from a truly public place, such as the street tens of yards away. Today, of course, this is almost a non-problem, but the march of sensitivity is one-way, and eventually robots will be sensitive enough that legal boundaries as defined today will become humorous rather than practical. What then? It will be interesting to see- as Shapiro notes during his radio report- whether super-robots change the face of warrant law, or erode the concept of privacy altogether.


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