Packaging punishment

I discovered a little video clip showing a futuristic police robot of sorts. There was politics written all over it. Here, see for yourself:

A lot has been said about how technology can solve social problems and how focus on science and "problem-solving" is the way to an equal society. And the thing that all that idle talk misses is that before we can solve a problem, we must first understand it.

A riot control unit such as this will surely "control" riots. But what happens in situations where the police itself is helping the rioters? What happens when the police is actively participating in riots? What happens when a certain kind of rioter is dressed like the police and is in fact running the anti-riot machine - both physically and metaphorically?

A better society is that where riots don't happen. Not one where the state comes up with tech to "control" riots. Because the state's job is more than policing. It is governance and public welfare. To accept a level of involvement where punishment becomes the default mode of engagement instead of prevention, is to condemn all of our children to futures where those in power get to treat them as "rioters" instead of asking why they are on the streets.

In recent times, to anyone who has not glued their eyes shut, the one truth that has become abundantly clear is that peacefully protesters are routinely labeled violent and then treated as such. The message being sent out is that though you may be robbed of your rights, your jobs, your standing as a free citizen, you must not say a word. If you do, we will bring the full force of the state, the media, and multiple government institutions to bear on punishing you.

The poor, the unemployed, and the marginalised stand to lose most from this tech-centric approach to governance. And those of us who are content to watch the riot-control machine do its work on TV from the comfort of our homes, will be next.

The police getting better weapons, more monitoring power, and a greater ability to enter anyone's home should not be bringing anyone any comfort. The foundation of a healthy society cannot be its government's power to mete out punishment.

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