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Edward Snowden’s Second Life as a Robot

Technology By
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Edward Snowden (via monitor) speaks on stage at Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards - 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC John Zuccotti Theater on April 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Edward Snowden (via monitor) speaks on stage at Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards – 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC John Zuccotti Theater on April 22, 2016, in New York City. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

 

Whether you think he’s a hero or traitor, you can’t deny that his second life as a robot is completely bizarre. Ever since Snowden leaked hundreds of classified NSA documents, detailing U.S. surveillance, he’s essentially been living in exile in Russia. Despite this, Snowden has managed to remain as relevant as he was the day he leaked the information to the press. He’s written op-eds and video-conferenced in to conventions, but using a BeamPro. With this video-platform robot, Snowden experiences a sort of proxy freedom in the United States. New York Magazine‘s Andrew Rice caught up with robot Snowden (or Snowbot). Here’s Rice’s take:

“The idea that Snowden is still walking the American streets, virtually or otherwise, is infuriating to his former employers in the U.S.-intelligence community. Its leaders no longer make ominous jokes about wanting to put him on a drone kill list — as former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden did in 2013 — but they still vilify him and maintain that he did real harm to America’s safety and international standing. While Snowden’s leaks revealed the NSA’s controversial and possibly unconstitutional bulk collection of domestic internet traffic and telephone metadata, they also exposed technical details about many other classified activities, including overseas surveillance programs, secret diplomatic arrangements, and operations targeting legitimate adversaries. The spy agencies warn that the public doesn’t comprehend the degree of damage done to their protective capabilities, even as events like the Orlando nightclub massacre demonstrate the destructive reach of terrorist ideology. The fallout from Snowden’s actions may have prompted a debate about security and privacy that even President Obama acknowledges ‘will make us stronger,’ but there has been no such reassessment, at least officially, of Snowden himself. He still faces charges of violating the federal Espionage Act, crimes that could carry a decades-long prison sentence.”

Read the full story on Snowden’s second life here.