A Robotic Solution To Homelessness In San Francisco

by William Skink

For the first time in years the homeless population is rising. Homelessness on the west coast is a big part of this nationwide bump.

Once the heart of hippiedom, San Francisco is now showing some disturbing signs of a possible dystopian, techno-fascist future. Sound extreme? How about using robots to keep homeless people away from an animal shelter?

For the SPCA, the security robot, which they’ve dubbed K9, was a way to try dealing with the growing number of needles, car break-ins and crime that seemed to emanate from nearby tent encampments of homeless people along the sidewalks.

“We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment,” Jennifer Scarlett, the S.F. SPCA’s president, told the Business Times.

Once the SPCA started using the robot on the sidewalks around its campus in early November, Scarlett said, there were no more homeless encampments. There were also fewer break-ins to cars in the campus parking lot. It’s not clear that the robot was the cause of the decreases, Scarlett added, but they were correlated.

The city is moving to stop these robots from patrolling public right of ways. I say don’t deny this technological solution, San Francisco. Program “K9” to chase these pests all the way to the hinterlands. Maybe the fires will provide the final solution.

The ultimate irony is the booming tech-sector is playing a big role in driving up the cost of housing, which–surprise, surprise–makes more homeless people! Crazy, I know.

Too bad all that brain power and rapidly evolving technological advancements can’t stop the rentier class from draining the benefits of increased productivity.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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