Last week, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Board of Supervisors voted for allowing the city’s police department to add killer robots to its arsenal. It was planned that these would not be “robots with weapons”, but kamikaze robots armed with bombs, which would be able to drive up to suspects and detonate them. As soon as the public found out, protests began and the Board of Supervisors backed down, voting unanimously to ban the deadly robots.
Shortly after the first news broke, the No Killer Robots campaign was launched with the participation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups. Forty-four community groups signed a letter protesting the policy, saying: “There is no basis to believe that robots toting explosives might be an exception to police overuse of deadly force. Using robots that are designed to disarm bombs to instead deliver them is a perfect example of this pattern of escalation, and of the militarization of the police force that concerns so many across the city.”
As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the use of lethal robots has been banned only “for now.” The matter will be brought back to the committee for further discussion, and it may vote on the policy again in the future.