RoboCop, people tend to forget, was not a robot. The eponymous character in the 1987 cyberpunk classic was a cyborg, and it’s the hybrid’s humanity that really moves the movie along. The Terminator (1984), on the other hand, terminated. KP-Bot, India’s first robo-cop, has little similarity with her fictional counterpart from three decades ago — like the terminator, she’s all robot. Modelled after women police personnel, the Kerala police’s newest asset is an android developed by the Kochi-based start-up, Asimov Robotics, and Cyberdome, a technology development centre of the Kerala police. To begin with, KP-Bot will welcome visitors, pass out information and guide them through the services available at the police headquarters. So far, so innocuous. But, in the future, she will detect explosives and issue identity cards to visitors.
For the paranoid, those waiting for the inevitable robocalypse, Kerala’s robocop is just another step towards the end of people as we know them. Between AI and machines with an understanding of armaments, does humanity stand a chance? Likely, this paranoia belongs where it began, in the realm of science fiction. And given that the company that helped create KP-Bot is named after Isaac Asimov, it is likely that any iterations on the android will keep in mind the Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not harm a human being; it must follow orders; and it must protect itself, so long as such protection does not conflict with the first two laws.
The logical loop of the Three Laws, of course, is airtight. In fact, they are just about ethical enough to form guidelines for human police persons in India and beyond. Essentially, they boil down to being decent (no “third-degree”), disciplined (chain of command) and without pointless bravado. Sadly, even fictional robots and robocops have not been able to follow the Three Laws. And organic law enforcement is, for now, merely human.