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Are San Francisco’s Killer Robots the Wave of the Future?

by Robert Wayne

When you think of remote control killer robots you think of repressive regimes like East Germany, which used remote control machine guns to kill people who tried to flee to freedom. Even though a killer robot was used to kill the gunman who killed 5 Dallas police officers in 2016, that was at least a situation in which the robot was confronting a known threat.

San Francisco police, however, sought to get approval to start using robots to deliver explosive charges even though no there was no exigent demand for doing so. Even worse than that request being made was the fact that the San Francisco city council approved it.

Thankfully there was enough of a public outcry that the council reversed its decision and sent the request to a committee for review. But we have to hope that the council pulls its head out of its rear end and decides in favor of common sense even if a committee approves this plan.

The only instance in which a robot could remotely even be considered in taking a human life is when that person is actively engaged in some sort of behavior which is threatening innocent lives. If a bank robber is engaged in a gun battle with police then sure, no one is going to a robot or a drone being used to take the guy out.

But the problem with approving the use of robots in such circumstances is the inevitable mission creep. Eventually they’ll start being used in barricade situations or in domestic violence disputes. They might even be used to coax people out of their cars at traffic stops. Normalizing this is not something that anyone wants to see happen. But that’s the risk we run if we allow these killer robots to become a staple of police forces.

More and more it seems like our society is entering a dystopian future like those envisioned in 1980s action movies. Let’s hope for our sake and the sake of our children that we don’t keep progressing down that path.

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