Dead or Alive, You’re Coming With Me

When science fiction becomes science fact, it can be awesome. Other times it can be really bad. In the case of "Asimov's Laws of Robotics", it has become reality to examine the first law "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." because, in a whirlwind of decisions, San Francisco's Board of Supervisors first approved the use of deadly force by police robots but then reversed that decision. Judy Serrano at Gizmodo has more.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week.

More than 100 people gathered to protest the killer robot policy at City Hall, according to board supervisor Dean Preston, one of the lawmakerswho led the effort to reject the policy. The same day, 44 local organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU of Northern California, and the San Francisco Public Defender, sent a letter voicing their opposition to the policy to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors. 

“The people of San Francisco have spoken loud and clear: There is no place for killer police robots in our city,” Preston said in a statement after the vote. 


From what I can gather, the original intent of the policy was to minimize the harm that could come to law enforcement by using a robot in their place that would be equipped with a weapon. While it is always a positive to want to protect people, there is a large amount of scrutiny over policing and the biases that exist. Body cameras have shown this many times and the further militarization of law enforcement does nothing to show police as trustworthy people protecting you. Their perception has been changing and not for the better.

"Killing someone by remote" would only further remove the humanity from a situation, which does no good for anyone. Protecting both law enforcement and suspects so they are not killed before their due process has a middle ground. Armed robots, for me, is certainly not the answer.