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San Francisco Police Department Approves Use Of Killer Robots

San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) board of supervisors approved a policy that allows officers use killer robots in extreme circumstances.

The policy is controversial because as many people know, ‘extreme circumstances’ leaves much open to translation. Although, the policy does mention that these circumstances must be when the risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available. Again, this is open to argument as it means how the individuals involved perceive danger.

Following reports about the policy, the SFPD said that it did not own a killer robot or a pre-armed one. However, a statement by the department’s spokesperson, Allison Maxie, revealed that it does have robots that could be armed with explosives if officers choose to do so.

The Verge says that the police department own 12 operational robots, and five which are not yet in use. Some of these robots are mostly used to track and detonate explosives and others are useful in reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

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The SFPD assured the public that it does not have any plan to arm its robots at this time and there was no danger of the robots doing so themselves as they are all designed to be operated by a human, but they have small autonomous capabilities.

This news brings back the recent statement by some leaders in the robotics industry to not let killer robots become a normal phenomenon. Although, they are not the only ones in the industry and several companies have no qualms building robots that can kill.

A 2016 incident of the police in Dallas using a robot to kill a sniper who had already gunned down five police officers at a rally readily comes to mind. While the action was praised by many, others criticised it. Several police departments have equally rejected the option of using killer robots to neutralise suspects.

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Onwuasoanya Obinna

A reader of books and stringer of words. Passionate about Science and Tech. When not writing or reading he is surfing the web and Tweeting.