The killer robots won’t be deployed in San Francisco after all – with police making a U-turn just days after the controversial policy was announced.
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) had referred to the deployment of robots equipped with explosive charges “to contact, incapacitate or disorient violent, armed or dangerous suspects” when lives were at stake.
But on Tuesday, city supervisors voted to halt the contentious policy, although the issue has now been referred to a committee for further discussion and could resurface.
The board voted last week to allow the use of deadly robots in extreme circumstancesbut the move has thrust the notorious liberal city into the center of a debate over the future of technology and policing, with some saying arming robots was a step too close to a dystopian sci-fi movie.
Although robotic technology for policing has become more widely available, departments across the country have rarely used it to confront or kill suspects.
The police currently have a dozen ground robots, used to assess bombs or perform reconnaissance in low-visibility environments.
However, explicit permission to use robots as a type of force was required after a new California law took effect this year requiring police and sheriff departments to inventory military-grade equipment and request authorization. approval for their use.
Three supervisors who have rejected the policy from the start joined dozens of protesters outside City Hall to urge the board to change course.
They chanted and held up signs reading slogans such as: “We’ve all seen this movie… No killer robots”.
Supervisor Dean Preston was among them. He said: “San Francisco residents have spoken loud and clear: There is no place for killer police robots in our city.
“We should be working on ways to reduce the use of force by local law enforcement, not giving them new tools to kill people.”