NYC Mayor Eric Adams has relied on new tech to solve his problems. It hasn't worked out.

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Eric Adams and K5

NYC Mayor Eric Adams has relied connected caller exertion to lick nan city's problems. It's yet to activity out. Credit: Barry Williams for NY Daily News via Getty Images

Politicians, astatine slightest successful nan U.S., are often criticized for being retired of touch pinch basal technology. However, what happens erstwhile things spell excessively acold successful nan different direction? What happens erstwhile a leader attempts to over-rely connected unproven tech to lick their problems? 

New technology, correctly deployed, tin evidently beryllium a boon to immoderate city, but successful New York City, Mayor Eric Adams is connected a agelong streak of tech missteps, showcasing what debacles tin unfold erstwhile leaders don’t understand what tin spell wrong.

NYC's AI chatbot for businesses

On Friday, 3 nonprofit news organizations – The Markup, Documented, and The City – copublished a scathing report by newsman Colin Lecher astir nan AI chatbot that has been deployed by Mayor Adams and nan NYC government.

When Mayor Eric Adams announced nan "New York City Artificial Intelligence Action Plan" successful October of past year, nan metropolis touted it arsenic a "first-of-its-kind scheme for responsible artificial intelligence usage In NYC government." The announcement spotlighted a very circumstantial portion of nan plan, nan "first citywide AI chatbot" which would beryllium deployed connected charismatic NYC authorities business websites successful bid to thief business owners "access trusted information." The chatbot is powered by Microsoft’s Azure AI service.

However, Lecher discovered that nan AI chatbot is alternatively telling NYC business owners to break nan law.

Lecher's study provided illustration aft illustration of nan AI chatbot giving nan incorrect proposal to very basal questions. For example, erstwhile prompted pinch applicable questions, nan chatbot told Lecher that business owners tin return a trim of their work worker's tips — which they legally cannot — that landlords tin discriminate against tenants based connected income — which is against nan rule — and that you tin tally a cashless shop successful NYC — which is besides illegal.

Robot subway surveillance

Late past year, Mayor Adams announced a aviator programme for a caller 400-pound, information camera-equipped, egg-shaped robot named K5 that would patrol nan Times Square subway station. 

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K5 was described arsenic a "fully autonomous outdoor information robot" by its creators, a institution called Knightscope. However, arsenic nan New York Daily News reports, nan robot was accompanied by 2 quality NYPD constabulary officers astatine each times. Adams expressed concerns that K5 would beryllium vandalized, but meanwhile, civilian authorities groups expressed very different concerns regarding privateness for mundane New Yorkers, and wondered whether arguable facial nickname exertion would beryllium deployed successful K5 eventually.

As nan New York Times reported past year, ineligible experts besides believed that nan surveillance robot violated nan Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology Act, "a metropolis rule requiring nan section to people specifications astir really caller exertion is being utilized and nan information it collects."

But, really did nan K5 aviator go? Well, K5 patrolled nan Times Square subway position for 2 months and past was put distant successful a city retention facility by nan extremity of 2023 – moreover though NYC was paying Knightscope for a 6-month agelong contract.

Robot constabulary dogs

Speaking of robotics, K5 wasn't nan first clip NYC experimented pinch nan exertion for policing.

In 2021, nan NYPD canceled a astir six-figure statement pinch nan robotics institution Boston Dynamics for robot constabulary "Digidogs" aft nationalist outcry against nan technology. Then-Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed pinch nan move, calling nan robot dogs "creepy" and "alienating."

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At nan time, Mashable published a study detailing nan emergency extremity process to power-down nan robot canine successful nan arena of a script wherever it would request to beryllium deployed. 

However, it appears Mayor Adams doesn't stock his predecessor de Blasio's sentiments connected nan Digidog. Last year, Mayor Adams announced that nan NYPD would beryllium bringing backmost nan robot constabulary dogs, and that nan metropolis acquired 2 "Spot" models for $75,000 each.

Civil authorities groups and privateness advocates person shared nan aforesaid concerns regarding nan robot dogs that they did astir K5.

Subway weapons detectors

The latest illustration of Mayor Adams' questionable reliance connected new, unproven exertion comes successful nan shape of nan precocious announced inaugural to usage weapons detectors astatine subway stations.

This week, Mayor Adams announced that they would deploy AI-powered metallic detectors that tin scan for weapons. These scanners are created by a Massachusetts-based institution called Evolv.

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These devices are an absorbing prime for nan NYC subway strategy because Evolv's CEO himself said earlier this month, earlier nan Mayor's announcement, that these scanners would not activity good successful nan subway system.

During an investor call, Evolv CEO Peter George was specifically asked astir utilizing these scanners successful NYC subway stations, according to a study by nan New York Daily News.

“Subways successful peculiar are not a spot that we deliberation is simply a bully use-case for us,” nan Evolv CEO said. “Both for nan [concept of operations], and being beneath crushed and interference pinch nan railways — [subways are] not a awesome use-case."

Furthermore, Evolv has conscionable precocious been sued by its shareholders for overstating nan effectiveness of its scanning technology. The SEC besides launched an investigation into nan institution past month. In addition, nan FTC is looking into Evolv owed to its trading practices. And nan institution has been forced to retract claims it made astir testing its exertion successful nan UK.

Other evident lapses successful tech judgment

Mayor Adams has taken different risky bets too, for illustration pinch cryptocurrency. He's been a reasonably outspoken advocator for nan technology. Adams converted his first mayoral paychecks into cryptocurrency, touted really he would look into blockchain exertion arsenic solutions to nan city's problems, and moreover dined pinch FTX laminitis and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

While Mayor Adams' cryptocurrency portfolio whitethorn beryllium up now assuming he held onto his holdings, immoderate hard-up constituent who followed his lead and needed to waste during past year's "crypto winter" would beryllium down big. As for Sam Bankman-Fried, nan FTX caput was conscionable sentenced to 25 years successful national situation connected conspiracy and fraud charges related to his now-failed crypto exchange.

As these examples show, Mayor Adams has many times relied connected unproven, sometimes risky exertion arsenic solutions to nan city's issues. Time aft time, these tax-payer funded programs haven't panned out, and nan 8 cardinal group surviving successful nan metropolis person to woody pinch nan consequences.

Mashable has reached retired to Mayor Adams' agency for comment, but did not instantly perceive back. We will update if we person a reply.

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