UNITED STATES: Tuesday saw a vote by San Francisco lawmakers to outlaw the use of deadly force by police robots. The current decision reversed a decision that had been made a week earlier and caused widespread anger.
The San Francisco police department (SFPD) has 17 robots in its arsenal, but the city’s board of supervisors decided to specifically forbid it from deploying them to murder people.
The board could ultimately decide to permit lethal force in some situations because it also referred the matter back to a committee for additional review.
The majority of the board’s 11 members had last week voted in favor of allowing robots to be loaded with explosives and used to murder individuals.
The board also made a change stating that only senior officers would be permitted to approve the use of deadly force.
Civil rights organizations sharply criticized the initial decision to permit “killer robots,” which also brought attention to the militarization of US police forces.
Supervisors and law enforcement officers who had first backed the use of deadly force had said that the robots would murder individuals in extreme circumstances, including those involving suicide bombers or active shooters.
Gordon Mar tweeted, “I do not think robots with lethal force will make us safer, or prevent or solve crimes”.
San Francisco police have a contentious history of employing lethal force against people, and one former officer is currently charged with manslaughter for a death that occurred while they were on duty.