New York City Mayor Eric Adams relied on new technology to solve his problems, but the results were less than ideal.

Politicians, at least in the United States, are often criticized for being out of touch with underlying technology. However, what happens when things go too far in the other direction? What happens when politicians try to rely too much on unproven technology to solve their problems? question?

Properly deployed new technology can obviously be a boon to any city, but in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams’ long history of missteps with technology demonstrates what happens when leaders don’t understand what can go wrong What kind of disaster might happen?

Enterprise AI chatbots in New York City

On Friday, three nonprofit news organizations — The Markup, Documented and The City — released a scathing report Reporter Colin Lecher reports on the deployment of artificial intelligence chatbots by Mayor Adams and the New York City government.

Mayor Eric Adams declare In the “New York City Artificial Intelligence Action Plan” launched in October last year, the city called it “New York City Government’s first plan for the responsible use of artificial intelligence.” The project is “the first city-wide artificial intelligence chatbot” and will be deployed on the New York City government’s official business website to help business owners “access trusted information.” The chatbot is powered by Microsoft’s Azure artificial intelligence service.

However, Letcher found that the AI ​​chatbot was instead telling New York business owners to break the law.

Lecher’s sample report comes after an AI chatbot gave incorrect advice to very basic questions. For example, when asked about it, the chatbot told Lecher that business owners can take a cut of service workers’ tips — which is a legal no-no — and landlords can discriminate against tenants based on income — which is illegal — and that you It’s possible to operate cashless stores in New York — and it’s also illegal.

Robot subway surveillance

Late last year, Mayor Adams declare A pilot project for a new 400-pound, egg-shaped robot equipped with security cameras called K5 that will patrol the Times Square subway station.

K5 is described by its creator, Knightscope, as a “fully autonomous outdoor security robot.” However, the robot is always accompanied by two human NYPD officers, according to the New York Daily News.Adams expressed concern about K5 being vandalized, but at the same time, civil rights groups expressed very different concerns about the privacy of everyday New Yorkers, and I would like to know Whether the K5 will eventually use facial recognition technology is controversial.

as New York Times It was reported last year that legal experts also believe surveillance robots violate Surveillance Technology Public Supervision Act“a city law requires the department to release details about how new technologies are used and the data they collect.”

But how is the K5 pilot going? The K5 patrolled the Times Square subway station for two months before being put into a warehouse. urban warehousing facilities to the end of 2023 – despite the City paying Knightscope a six-month long-term contract.

Robot police dog

Speaking of robotics, K5 is not the first time New York City has tried to use the technology for policing.

2021, NYPD Cancel Boston Dynamics has signed a nearly six-figure contract with robotics company Boston Dynamics for its robot police “Digidogs” after public outcry against the technology. Then-Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed with the move, calling the robot dogs “creepy” and “alienating.”

At that time, Mashable publish A report detailing emergency stop procedures for powering down a robot dog in the event that it needs to be deployed.

However, Mayor Adams seems to disagree with his predecessor de Blasio’s views on digital dogs.Last year, Mayor Adams declare The New York Police Department is bringing back robotic police dogs, with the city purchasing two “Spot” models for $75,000 each.

Civil rights groups and privacy advocates shared Their concerns about robot dogs are the same as their concerns about K5.

Subway weapon detector

The latest example of Mayor Adams’ questionable reliance on unproven new technology is the recently announced move to use weapons detectors in subway stations.

This week, Mayor Adams declare They will deploy artificial intelligence metal detectors to scan for weapons. The scanners are made by a Massachusetts company called Evolv.

The devices are an interesting choice for the New York City subway system, as the Evolv CEO himself said earlier this month ahead of the mayor’s announcement that the scanners would not work properly in the subway system.

According to a report from Evolv, during an investor call, Evolv CEO Peter George was specifically asked about the use of these scanners in New York subway stations. new york daily news.

“We think the subway is particularly unsuitable for us,” said Evolv’s CEO. [concept of operations]and is located underground and interferes with railways – [subways are] This is not a very good use case. “

Additionally, Evolv was recently be accused Its shareholders exaggerated the effectiveness of its scanning technology.The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also roll out An investigation into the company was launched last month. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating Evolv’s marketing practices. The company was forced to withdraw its statement about testing its technology in the UK.

Other obvious errors in technical judgment

Mayor Adams has also made other risky bets, such as cryptocurrency. He has been a fairly outspoken advocate for the technology.Adams converted His first mayoral salary was in cryptocurrency, touted how he would research blockchain technology as a solution to city problems, and even After dinner Join FTX Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

While Mayor Adams’ Cryptocurrency Portfolio May Be Get up now Assuming he holds his shares, any savvy voters who followed his lead and needed to sell during last year’s “crypto winter” will be down big.As for Sam Bankman-Fried, the FTX head is just Sentenced Serving 25 years in federal prison on conspiracy and fraud charges related to his now-failed cryptocurrency exchange.

As these examples illustrate, Mayor Adams has repeatedly relied on unproven and sometimes risky technology to solve the city’s problems. Time and time again, these taxpayer-funded plans failed, and the 8 million people who lived in the city had to deal with the consequences.

Mashable has reached out to Mayor Adams’ office for comment but did not immediately receive a response. We will update if we hear back.

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