San Francisco reverses approval of killer robot policy

In late November, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors has permitted a proposal that may enable town’s police pressure to make use of remote-controlled robots as a lethal pressure possibility when confronted with violent or armed suspects. The supervisors voted 8-to-3 in favor of creating it a brand new coverage regardless of opposition by civil rights teams, however now they appear to have had a change of coronary heart. Throughout the second of two required votes earlier than a coverage will be despatched to the mayor’s workplace for ultimate approval, the board voted 8-to-3 to explicitly ban the use of deadly pressure by police robots. As San Francisco Chronicle notes, this about-face is fairly uncommon, because the board’s second votes are usually simply formalities that echo the primary ones’ outcomes.

The San Francisco Police Division made the proposal after a legislation got here into impact requiring California officers to outline the licensed makes use of of their military-grade gear. It will have allowed cops to equip robots with explosives “to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or harmful suspects.” Authorities might solely use the robots for deadly pressure after they’ve exhausted all different potentialities, and a high-ranking official must approve their deployment. Nonetheless, critics are involved that the machines could possibly be abused. 

Dean Preston, one of many supervisors who oppose the usage of robots as a lethal pressure possibility, stated the coverage will “place Black and brown individuals in disproportionate hazard of hurt or dying.” In a more recent assertion made after the board’s second vote, Preston stated: “There have been extra killings by the hands of police than some other yr on document nationwide. We needs to be engaged on methods to lower the usage of pressure by native legislation enforcement, not giving them new instruments to kill individuals.”

Whereas the supervisors voted to ban the usage of deadly pressure by police robots — for now, anyway — in addition they despatched the unique coverage proposing the usage of killer robots again for assessment. The board’s Guidelines Committee might now amend it additional to have stricter guidelines to be used of bomb-equipped robots, or it might scrap the outdated proposal altogether.

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