Week 7: Remote Sensing – Telepresent Surveillance

In this week’s reading, there is an artist that works with robot surveillance probes. Joel Slayton describes his project through the following:

“Telepresent Surveillance is an evolving artwork/research project incorporating autonomous robot surveillance probes and the Internet. The intent of this project is to characterize a form of media experience derived from the activities of intelligent machine agents designed to enable telepresent viewing” (Wilson, 343).

I believe that his work was very impressive since it was created in 1995. The idea of remote sensing was not particularly spoken of back then and seeing how his robots worked seemed very futuristic. His robots are programmed to move through human presence and shared proximity’s. Slayton mentions that each robot is custom engineered with infrared/sonar tracking systems for location and tracking of surveillance targets. Despite this project being made for artistic purposes, its capabilities seem terrifying if it were to be used for other purposes. These robots are similar to the drones now a day that the military uses, but instead, it could potentially be used for ground duties. The idea of ground drones seems to be much more invasive in terms of privacy because the whole purpose of the air drones is to remain undetected as they provide surveillance from the sky. Using Slayton’s robots in today’s world would most likely raise ethical issues.

Slayton also mentions that as each robot identifies and seeks a target, it must adjust to the changed in its environment. It must avoid contact with obstacles, and adjust to the architectural constraints presented by the site. Another term that Slayton uses often is “adjust”, and since his project is under the A-life (Artificial life) category, it makes me wonder how far these robots can actually adjust to function without error. The picture above shows the positions that the robot would see and all the decisions it would take if the environment starts changing. I am assuming that once the robot has seen a scenario and adjusted to it, it will always know how to move once a scenario like that is presented again. How long would it take for the robot to encounter all the possible ways of moving and avoiding obstacles? These are the types of concerns regarding remote sensing being incorporated into A-life. The positive outcomes could be outweighed by the negative ones and people have to be careful with what the possibilities a robot like Slayton’s could do.

-Daniel Yang


Telepresent Surveillance – http://surveil.sjsu.edu/


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