San Francisco Takes Back Its Decision To Allow Killer Robots

When confronted with violent or armed individuals, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors had approved a plan in late November that would have allowed the city’s police department to utilise remote-controlled robots as a deadly force option.

Despite criticism from civil rights organizations, the supervisors voted 8 to 3 in support of making it a new policy; however, they now appear to have changed their minds.

The board voted 8 to 3 to specifically forbid the use of fatal force by police robots during the second of the two votes necessary before a policy can be transmitted to the mayor’s office for final approval.

The board’s second votes are normally just formality that confirms the outcomes of the previous ones, so this about-face is quite unusual, as San Francisco Chronicle points out.

Following the implementation of a statute mandating the California government to specify the permitted uses of their military-grade equipment, the San Francisco Police Department made the request.

Police might have equipped robots with explosives “to contact, incapacitate, or disorient belligerent, armed, or dangerous persons,” according to the plan.

The robots could only be used for fatal force after authorities have exhausted all other options, and their deployment would require the approval of a senior official. Critics are worried that the devices might be misused, though.

Black and brown people will be at “disproportionate danger of harm or death,” according to Dean Preston, one of the supervisors who oppose using robots as a lethal force option.

In a more recent statement issued following the second board decision, Preston stated: “More people have been killed by police in the United States this year than any other year on record.

Instead of giving local law enforcement more means to kill people, we should be focusing on measures to reduce the use of force by that force.” The supervisors decided to forbid police robots from using fatal force.

at least temporarily, but they also sent the original policy that called for the employment of killer robots back for revision. The board’s Rules Committee now has the option to either further revise it to include stronger guidelines for the use of robots equipped with bombs or to completely rescind the previous plan.

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