If you’ve been paying attention to alarmist outcries in recent years, you might have encountered the term ‘killer robots’. These are machines used specifically to kill humans. And not like guns or knives (a knife is just a very simple machine). Rather, they’re able to track and assassinate targets without human intervention.
Loads of folks are understandably upset about the possibility. But it was thought that these robotic antagonists would be more likely to turn up on a battlefield than in a neighbourhood. But there’s always that one guy. In this case, the wombat taking things too far is the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD).
‘Can we have killer robots, please?’ – SFPD
Before you go thinking that the SFPD couldn’t possibly be trying to get actual killer robots included in its force, that is exactly what it’s doing. A draft policy is up for approval that would explicitly give the police force the ability to kill suspects using robots.
But it’s okay. Right? The SFPD promised to only use its robots during training or “criminal apprehensions, critical incidents, exigent circumstances, executing a warrant or during suspicious device assessments”. That covers a lot of ground and American police departments have a distressing tendency to shoot innocent people while executing warrants. That’s not the ‘execution’ they’re supposed to have permission for.
But the SFPD is actively seeking permission to kill suspects using robots. Piloted robots (which are technically drones) but they’re still robots. Its approval will supposedly hinge on only being able to deploy these machines during specific circumstances, specifically, “when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD.”
On the list of robots at the police force’s disposal are the QinetiQ Talon and Dragon Runner, but it’s far more likely that the Remotec F5A or F6A would be used to off a suspect. The Remotec F5A has the dubious distinction of having already become a killer robot.
There’s considerable opposition to the SFPD’s request, as well as some support in favour of it. But expect the argument to play out more and more often as the idea of autonomous ‘neutralisation’ of human beings starts to sound more and more attractive.
There’s only one potential upside to the push towards killer robots in law enforcement. Eventually one will go rogue, possibly prompting the creation of RoboCop. At long last.
Source: Mission Local