San Francisco plans to authorize its police officers to use killer robots, a controversial decision defended Thursday as a “last resort solution” by the police of this American city.
The San Francisco City Council on Tuesday voted in favor, by 8 votes to 3, for the adoption of a resolution providing for the use by law enforcement of robots capable of killing in certain extreme cases, such as terrorist attacks or mass killings, which are very frequent in the United States.
This decision, which must still be definitively adopted during a municipal council scheduled for December 6, according to the New York Times, feeds an intense controversy. Opponents fear it will lead to increased police brutality and a future fit for movies Terminator.
“The use of robots in potentially deadly situations is an option of last resort,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said in a statement.
“We live in a time when mass violence is becoming more frequent,” he insisted. “We need this option to save lives, in case this kind of tragedy happens in our city.”
Only senior police officers could issue orders to use a robot to kill, the statement said.
San Francisco police currently have several robots, which they can control remotely, which are used “during bomb threats, hazardous materials and other incidents where officers need to keep their distance before securing the scene. “, According to the press release.
The new measure would allow these robots to be used to place an “explosive charge” capable of “incapacitating or disorienting an armed or dangerous violent suspect who threatens to take lives”, according to the police.
“Robots equipped in this way would only be used to save innocent lives,” police said.
“This is horrible policy and the exact opposite of how the police should use robots,” Paul Scharre, vice president of the Center for New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, tweeted.
“The advantage of robots is to create more distance between law enforcement and a threat, precisely so that it does not need to resort to lethal force,” he added, emphasizing that the police can use many means to neutralize an assailant without killing him – tasers, stun grenades, tear gas, etc.
For him, the decision of San Francisco, which is likely to be followed by other cities, “is a new example of the militarization of the American police”, he denounced.