After all, killer robots won’t be rolling out in San Francisco — and the cops are making a U-turn just days after the controversial policy was announced.
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has proposed deploying robots loaded with explosives to “contact, incapacitate or confuse violent, armed or dangerous suspects” when their lives are threatened.
But on Tuesday, city supervisors voted to stop the controversial policy, though the issue will now be sent back to committee for further discussion and may resurface.
Board voted last week to allow use of lethal robots in extreme casesbut the move has thrust the famed Liberty City into the center of a debate over the future of technology and policing, with some saying armed robots are too close to a dystopian sci-fi movie.
While robotics for policing has become more widely available, departments across the country rarely use it to fight or kill suspects.
Police forces currently have a dozen ground-based robots that assess bombs or provide reconnaissance in low-visibility environments.
However, explicit authorization to use robots as a force is required after a new California law went into effect this year requiring police and sheriff’s departments to inventory military-grade equipment and seek approval to use it.
Three executives who rejected the policy from the start joined dozens of protesters outside City Hall in urging the board to change course.
They chanted and held signs with slogans such as: “We’ve all seen that movie … no killer robots.”
Dean Dean Preston was among them. “San Francisco is saying loud and clear: There is no place for killer robots in our city,” he said.
“We should be looking at ways to reduce the use of force by local law enforcement, not give them new tools to kill.”