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Under the new rules, robots can kill people on the orders of the police.
A new San Francisco policy proposal includes guidelines that would allow police to use robots as an “alternative to lethal force” if they have no other option.
Local lawmakers initially tried to include guidelines that included restrictions against killing humans with robots. “Robots may not be used as an exercise of force against any person,” the original guidelines read.
But police then took out that language and instead swapped it for directives that allow the use of killer robots. “Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when the risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD,” it now reads.
The new policy has been approved by the Local Rules Committee and will be voted on by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors next week.
It will mark the first time that the use of deadly force by a robot has been ruled either way in San Francisco. The police there do not have any robots that are clearly used as weapons and they have never been used to attack anyone.
But other forces have used robots to kill people. The first example of such an incident in the United States came in 2016, when Dallas police attached explosives to a robot and used them to kill a sniper who killed five officers.
San Francisco police have access to one of the same robots used in that operation, the Remotec F5A. Officially, that robot is designed to clear explosives, and is not intended to be used as a weapon.
There are 12 working robots in all. Typically they are used for “training and simulation, criminal apprehension, serious incidents, emergency situations, warrant execution or suspicious device evaluation,” according to the same policy.