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New Zealand police recruits an AI cop for duty

Artificial Intelligence has found countless use cases in the modern world. From detecting fake news to detecting cancers, AI today is being deployed almost everywhere. And now, this technology has found another use case, or should I say role. New Zealand police have deployed AI for the role of a cop. Yes, you heard it right, a cop!

Before you get all excited about the Kiwi cop being a Sophia-like figure, let me clarify — it’s not. Instead, the new AI cop is a virtual assistant but with a face. For convenience, picture Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa but with a face that looks like that of a human.

“Ella is a digital person that is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and uses real-time animation to emulate face-to-face interactions,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement.

The AI cop, Ella, will start work starting Monday, February 17. She will be stationed at New Zealand Police’s National Headquarters in the capital Wellington where she will assist the concierge team and talk to the visitors about various topics such as 105 non-emergency numbers and police vetting. In addition to that, she will welcome visitors, notify Police personnel that their guests have arrived, and direct visitors to take a visitor pass.

Ella will also be available at Wellington Central, Featherston and Johnsonville Police Stations where she will be a part of the police trials starting February 13. During the police trials, she will work in tandem with the Police Connect team, which is an interactive self-service platform where people can access Police information and advice, report non-emergency situations, and speak directly with someone from the Police.

In case you are wondering, Ella will not replace human cops or other employees. Instead, she will work along with them to deliver a strong police presence across the country. That said, she will be evaluated like other human recruits. After three months, Ella will be evaluated “to determine the technology’s future applications” and future course of action.

“Her capabilities are basic at this stage as she is a Proof of Concept, but we see some real benefits of digital person technology if we can equip the AI with more knowledge and capabilities, and it can learn from more interactions,” Commissioner Bush added.

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