San Francisco could soon have robot police officers that will be ‘authorized to kill’

Rachel Lang

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San Francisco could soon have robot police officers that will be ‘authorized to kill’

Featured Image Credit: Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 2+ / Alamy. freestyle_images / Alamy. Daily Travel Photos / Alamy.

If you've ever had a fear that grim futuristic films like The Terminator, The Matrix, or I, Robot would come true, then we have some bad news for you.

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has submitted a draft policy that would see robots in the city given a licence to kill in certain circumstances.

The submission has been under review for several weeks, with issues raised over the language used to describe robotic force and the proposed machine guns that the robots may use.

In an attempt to curb the use of deadly force by police robots, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee chair Aaron Peskin revised the draft policy's wording.

The draft policy. Credit: The City and County of San Francisco
The draft policy. Credit: The City and County of San Francisco

Peskin struck out the phrase: "Robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person."

In the same draft, the entire section on the semi-automatic weapons police wish to arm the robots with was also crossed out.

In return, the SFPD crossed out his cancellation and replaced it with a sentence that, if approved, will again allow police to use robots to kill.

Police replaced Peskin's wording with: "Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers are imminent and outweigh any other force option available to SFPD."

Scarily enough, minutes of a meeting of the City and County of San Francisco council on November 14 stated that a version of the killer robot draft policy was unanimously accepted by the rules committee.

The policy will now face the city's full board on November 29.

Is this what the future of San Fran looks like? Credit: Orion Pictures
Is this what the future of San Fran looks like? Credit: Orion Pictures

He revealed he initially approved the SFPD's request as the force advised him 'there could be scenarios where deployment of lethal force was the only option'.

The SFPD reportedly already has 17 robots and a dozen of them are described as 'fully functional', however none have been used on humans.

So far, they've been deployed to defuse bombs or to inspect areas that might be difficult or awkward for police to get into.

Police spokesman Officer Robert Rueca explained to Mission Local that the force doesn't have 'any sort of specific plan in place' for what type of scenario these robots would need to use deadly force. However, he admitted it would only be 'a rare and exceptional circumstance'.

Despite receiving the initial approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, legal expert Tifanei Moyer of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area has grave concerns over what precedent will be set if the draft proposal is approved.

"We are living in a dystopian future, where we debate whether the police may use robots to execute citizens without a trial, jury, or judge," she told Mission Local.

"This is not normal. No legal professional or ordinary resident should carry on as if it is normal."

Topics: News, US News, Crime

Rachel Lang
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