Tuesday, officials in San Francisco voted against a contentious measure that would have allowed police to deploy robots to use lethal force in extreme situations. This about-face came after a public outcry against the policy, which caused the officials to reconsider their position.
This about-face from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors comes one week after the board voted to approve the policy in an initial first-reading vote. This vote sparked a protest at City Hall on Monday, with some protestors holding signs that read, “NO KILLER ROBOTS!”
According to Natalie Gee, who is the chief of staff for the board’s president, the board voted on Tuesday to remove material related to robotics and the use of lethal force. According to Gee, the text was initially included as a component of a wider ordinance to approve funds for the San Francisco Police Department as well as the usage of certain pieces of law enforcement equipment.
Before the general ordinance can go into effect, it is necessary to obtain the approval of the mayor. In a statement, Supervisor Hillary Ronen expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of the vote, adding that “common sense won.”
According to Ronen, “We have put an end to the usage of killer robots in San Francisco today.” “The public outcry helped six Supervisors fully appreciate the gravity of last week’s vote and the numerous unanswered questions about both the ethical and practical implications of allowing police to use machines to kill human beings,” according to the article. “The public outcry helped six Supervisors fully appreciate the gravity of last week’s vote and the numerous unanswered questions.”
The vote on Tuesday comes after the board voted 8-3 last week to approve the measure, which would have given police the authority to use ground-based robots to kill “when the risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and officers cannot subdue the threat after using alternative force options or de-escalation tactics,” according to the ordinance text. The vote on Tuesday comes after the board voted 8-3 last week to approve the measure, which would have given police the authority to use ground-based robots to kill.
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Those who are in favor of deploying the robots have stated that they can be useful in severe or extraordinary situations and that this is especially true if it could save the loss of innocent lives. During an interview that took place a week ago with CNN, the Chief of Police of San Francisco, Bill Scott, stated unequivocally that the lethal function of the robots would only be employed in such extreme situations. He also mentioned that cops who had received specific training will be in charge of operating the robots.
According to Scott, the robots may have explosive charges attached to them so that they could break through defended structures, or they could be used to “contact, incapacitate, or disorient” a dangerous person without putting the life of a law enforcement officer in peril.
He stated that the use of these robots would be an absolute last resort. “If we ever have to exercise that option, it either means lives, innocent lives, have already been lost, or are in the balance, and this would be the only option to neutralize that person who is putting those lives at risk or the person who has already taken those lives,” you said.
“If we ever have to exercise that option. However, both authorities and people have voiced their opposition to the policy, which, by legislation that will go into effect in 2021 in the state of California, has to be approved by the board.
The results of the voting were announced on Tuesday, and after the vote, Supervisor Dean Preston stated that the people of San Francisco had made their opinion known: “There is no place for murderous police robots in our city.” We should be working on methods to decrease the use of force by local law police rather than giving them more instruments to kill people. “We should be working on ways to limit the use of force by local law enforcement.”
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