San Francisco rethinks killer robots plan

A protester holding up a sign while taking part in a demonstration about the use of robots by the San Francisco Police Department outside of City Hall in San Francisco, on Dec 5, 2022. San Francisco supervisors have voted put the brakes on a controversial policy that would let police use robots for deadly force. The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send the issue back to a committee for further discussion. — AP

SAN FRANCISCO: A plan to equip San Francisco police with killer robots was sent back to the drawing board on Dec 6 after city council members said they were having second thoughts.

City supervisors last week said cops would be allowed to deploy robots capable of delivering lethal force to deal with dangerous felons and life-threatening situations.

Police had welcomed the plan, stressing that it would be an option of last resort for tackling violent suspects like mass shooters or suicide bombers, without risk to officers’ lives.

But at a meeting of the board of supervisors on Tuesday that had been set to rubber stamp the plan, officials said they now had reservations.

“Last week, despite some ethical concerns, I did support the legislation but over the past week I feel extremely uncomfortable about it,” Gordon Mar said.

“I do not think armed and remote robots will make us safer.”

Last week’s announcement sparked headlines around the world, with some making comparisons with dystopian sci-fi like Terminator and Black Mirror.

Protestors attended Tuesday’s meeting and had descended on city hall demanding the plan be reversed.

After discussions, supervisors said the decision on killer robots needed to go back to committee for further consideration, though gave the green light to plans to allow police to acquire some military-style equipment. – AFP

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