I write this fully aware that I have a nasty authoritarian streak and zero civic training. These are sketches of a crazy rando who dreams about nicer things, but lacks the power and vision to make them materialize.
And as always, I could be totally wrong and just suffering from Silicon Valley Syndrome (“throw more money and tech at the problem instead of thinking of simpler human solutions”).
We must begin by solving the human authentication problem. Suppose humankind can develop avatars that can represent people in the real world. Then we must in tandem develop some sufficiently secure scheme to make sure that your avatar cannot be usurped, cannot be taken over, cannot be misrepresented, cannot be masqueraded as. Verifying that an avatar maps one-to-one to exactly one particular human being must be fast, accessible, and highly accurate.
Obviously, this presupposes that we perfect all the plumbing needed to deploy masses of cyborg avatars. Robotics and highly available internet connectivity would have to scale much larger and much quicker than they have historically. I imagine a lot of jury-rigging ad-hoc infrastructure solutions in rural areas. I’m going to hand-wave all these questions away in pursuit of the bigger picture.
From there, any interested state (county, municipality?) could contract with the avatar-makers to work out a distributed scheme that ensures every avatar is always recording what it sees and does. Since these avatars will be extensions of individual human beings, the avatars do not themselves have any innate right to privacy. Avatars do not need worry about forgetting to turn off body cameras in the restroom. If your proxy is just a soulless subservient extension of yourself, there is never a good reason to tamper with its record-keeping. Nevertheless, control must be given either to the masses or to a totally apolitical / nonprofit / unaligned third party to guard against the worst case.
We arrive at the conclusion. Policing can be done entirely remotely but in a way that still guarantees that every officer of the peace is individual identifiable and accountable for his or her actions. This removes essentially all immediate physical risk from an officer’s day-to-day work. Therefore the officer should never be discouraged from acting generally and should always be discouraged from overextending. With no danger to life and limb, all excuses for police brutality (flimsy as they may already be in the status quo) should vanish. Unnecessarily roughshod treatment at the hands of an avatar will be captured in the public record and duly scorned.
There are many problems here that I’m slowly turning over in my head.
- Officers bound and determined to be bad (most common example: being racially selective) can abuse the system just as easily (if not more so). This is only somewhat offset by the always-on body cams. The public does not have the time to monitor all video feeds 24/7 to detect patterns of racism etc. etc. and it has been a historical toss-up as to who can reasonably have oversight on this.
- Better-prepared criminals no longer have any incentive to hold back if resisting arrest. A maimed avatar is a much lesser sin than a deceased police officer, so if legislation does not keep pace, a dynamic may well develop in which criminals are always incentivized to disable / “kill” police avatars.
- Where does all the money for this come from?