The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), in the United States, proposed a new policy that would allow the use of lethal force through robots. As discovered by Mission Location on Tuesday (22), the project would ensure that machines have authorization for kill suspects in cases where the lives of police and citizens are at risk🇧🇷
The text suggests that robots can be “used as a lethal force option when the risk of loss of life to citizens and officials is imminent and the need outweighs any other force option”. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Rules Committee has been reviewing and revising the text since the beginning of the month.
Aaron Peskin, Dean of the Committee, had put in the original project of the new risk management policy that “robots must not be used as a use of force against any person”, but the Department insisted on this clause and reinserted that the machine must have that authority in cases of need. Peskin ended up agreeing.
The debate dates back to 2016, when Chief David Brown of the Dallas Police Department used a robot armed with a bomb to shoot down a suspect who killed five policemen. According to the police unit, “there was no other option”. The San Francisco Police Department is due to have its bill reviewed by Nov. 29.
Boston Dynamics, ANYbotics and others oppose
Aaron Peskin’s initial reluctance reflects a number of opposing views on the machine’s authority that include leading robotics manufacturers. Boston Dynamics, one of the largest companies operating in the segment, joined Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics and Unitree in an open letter to the Committee.
“We believe that advanced mobile robots will provide great benefit to society as co-workers in industry and companions in our homes, [mas] the emergence of these robots offers the possibility of misuse,” the letter reads.
Possible Ghost Robotics criticism
A report published by TechCrunch on Wednesday (23) suggests that Boston Dynamics’ open letter is actually directed specifically at Ghost Robotics, a company that supplies armed robots to the US Army.
The image of one of its robots appeared on the web recently, showing a machine similar to the DigiDog from Boston Dynamics — which, in turn, is usually used for detecting explosives and other anti-terrorist missions —, however equipped with a large rifle which, according to the manufacturer, is not autonomous.
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Ghost Robotics has reached out to the media to state that it is unaware of its robot’s actual applications in the US military. “We will not dictate to our government customers how they should use the robots,” a company spokesman said.
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