The 1980s sci-fi satire, RoboCop, seems to be coming to life as the San Francisco Police Department recently announced they will allow robots to use deadly force in dangerous situations to protect officers and the public.
The use of deadly force by these robots, they said, must meet specific criteria to be justified.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted for the use of deadly force as long as there is an imminent threat to police officers or the public and all other options have been exhausted. In 2016, a robot was used to kill a suspect in a Dallas, TX shooting that took the lives of five officers.
Under this policy, SFPD is authorized to use these robots to carry out deadly force in extremely limited situations when risk to loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available. 2/5— Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) November 30, 2022
The incident in Dallas sparked public debate as to whether it is ethical to use robots for deadly force as part of law enforcement procedures.
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU, had some criticisms of the use of robots with lethal capabilities.
SEE ALSO: The Remote Control Assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh: Beware the Killer Robots
“Our biggest concern is that armed robots will be over-used,” Stanley said in a statement on the ACLU website.
“As robots allow deadly force to be applied more easily and with less risk to police officers, and as they get cheaper and more commonplace, there is a risk that they will turn into yet another avenue for abusive behavior by some in law enforcement,” he continued.
While Stanley and the ACLU have concerns about the Dallas incident, retired assistant chief of police and recognized SWAT expert, Steve Ijames, believes this option was the Dallas Police Department’s only shot at protecting the public based on the fact the DPD couldn’t get eyes on the suspect.
“I think you’ll learn as this plays out that this person was secreted in a location that they couldn’t see him,” Ijames said in a 2016 interview with Wired.
“If they could see him, they just would have shot him with a rifle, no question,” he added. “And looking at the physical location—the concrete and the chance of ricochet—they probably didn’t want a lot of bullets flying around. They were probably trying to limit their fire as best they could.”
Despite the hyperbole expressed by many who oppose this policy, I believe it lays out reasonable restrictions on the use of robots, and I appreciate the work Rules Committee Chair @AaronPeskin and SFPD did to come to an agreement on this important issue. 5/5— Rafael Mandelman (@RafaelMandelman) November 30, 2022
Today, the debate is playing out on social media with many reacting for and against the use of deadly robots in law enforcement.
What are your thoughts? Are you ready for killer robots?
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Time to break out the D9 Cat and squash this thing like a bug! hehe
Words of Absolute Truth: The killer-robots are acts of cowardice and deception. If a police officer can be injured when implementing “lethal force”, then heshe will think more carefully as to whether or not it is justified. With killer-robots, they can implement lethal force and “blame it on the robot’s programming and the police themselves can say that the police are not to blame because they did not kill the suspect; the robot killed the suspect; bad programming. DID THE PEOPLE OF SAN FRANCISCO APPROVE THE USE OF ROBOTS? HELL NO! THAT IS BECAUSE “THEY RULE YOU.” YOU ARE THEIR SUBJECTS; THEY ARE THE MASTERS.
How long before one of these gets hacked and is turned on people it is not supposed to be used on?
I have seen enough horror movies to know this will go bad! heh-heh. So when they use the excuse “weapons of war” how is this not one that will will be used against American civilians? Now who will get the blame…..politicians…..robot maker…..software writer……operator…….gun maker…….ammo maker……. when this is abused? At least with a human if something goes wrong you have other humans to intercede, but with a robot the chances are if something goes south on one it will be wrong on the rest!
When will bet the ED209?
Remember Short Circuit? Yeah!
No disassemble Johnny 5!! They become self aware and boom, there goes the neighborhood.
This is not a cyborg with independent decision-making. A robot has no brain.
It is a tool directed by a human, just like any other firearm. When it is a robot, there is no self-defense justification if the robot is shot at. The human aiming the robot does not have to worry about their own protection.
Lives of criminals and innocent bystanders will be saved because only PROPERTY is at stake, not LIVES. Dead felons are like dead bees. They can still sting us with a wrongful death suit by their family/estate. I’d rather it be the word of a living felon against a live officer than a manufactured dead “saint.”
This gives police more latitude in assessing a situation before taking action. This is more justified than a less lethal weapon, like a stun gun – WHICH CAN KILL and DOES.
Hey Scharf, I guess you missed the part in the article where it said the robots will carry a Bomb. So, tell me again how there won’t be any innocents harmed when it’s detonated. Waiting…..
And also, to your point of no officer being placed in harm’s way by using a killer robot, don’t you think that officer might sideline his usual constraint in using deadly force because of his absence from the scene?
So now the worthy editors of GAD have gotten their panties in a twist over this robot. I might agree with your point about the danger of putting this thing in the hands of, let’s face it, our not always brilliant police officers (remember Uvalde?). On the other hand, you’re perfectly happy with the situation in this mad-man country of ours whereby any ill-formed, secretly deranged 18-year-old is allowed pick up a lethal weapon anytime he wants to get back at someone.
Regarding that “secretly deranged 18-year-old (who) is allowed (to) pick up a lethal weapon anytime”——
Seems like you’re suggesting exactly what’s #1 on the Progressive-Socialist gun control list, i.e., ban ALL firearms. And even if your wish came true, that’ll stop murderous criminals, terrorists, and even 16 y.o. wack-jobs from getting their hands on a gun, huh?
Pull yer head out of yer ass, Porter.
Lol In San Francisco??? They don’t even know the speaker of the house lives there, you think they are actually gonna use one of these on somebody… these were developed to make someone rich that is a buddy of the police force 😂
There are so many ways for use of robots to turn into a shit show!
I said it before and I’ll say it again. We as humans are killers. We are always trying to think of ways to kill each other. No matter if it’s in the military or in civilian life. If we allow this it will escalate to eventually total destruction. These idiots that want to do this are war mongers. If the law enforcement is allowed to use that against the public the how long will it take for the federal government to use it to control the people in the country and then the world. We need to stop it before its to late.
“We have a directive to (click, bzzz) terminate all the tax evaders at this address.”
(aftermath: oops, computer malfunction; wrong address)
SF is a test to see how well the robot experiment will go. Defund The Police hasn’t gone away, it’s just evolved into replacing officers with killer robots. With AI, it will be a short wait until those robots are autonomous.
The Progressive-Socialists are salivating over a final solution to all those “fascist, MAGA extremist threats to democracy.” Why do you think this is being tested in that liberal shithole(literally!) known as San Fransicko?
I can remember back when BB guns were the young boy’s dream for a Christmas present. They were dangerous to the eyes and a few other vital areas of the body, but for a “toy”, they were perfectly permissible because, “I trained MY son to handle his BB gun in a safe and controlled manner.” But there were nonetheless a few “accidents” where a young boy, playing “BB gun War” with his buddies, would fall prey to a stray BB and he would lose an eye in the “accident”. But the BB gun industry evolved into the pellet gun industry we see today taking both small and large game animals down with a single shot from some very deadly and powerful fully functional weapons capable of killing a human being if the shot was well placed.
Don’t misconstrue what I say, I am a purist 2A supporter and always have been since I received my 1st .22lr single shot rifle as a 10-year-old kid. But this to me is another “good idea” which has the deadly potential to “go bad” if or when it falls into the wrong hands for any reason whatsoever. And it really doesn’t have much to do with our 2nd Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms as it was initially written, in my opinion.
Our society is constantly changing so quickly that we, as common everyday working citizens, cannot keep abreast of the constant changes made to initiate NEW laws or any attempts to CHANGE those existing laws when it is to the benefit of those in power at any given time. The authors of the “new” laws or the initiator of willful changes to existing laws almost always have an ulterior motive for those changes or they would not stoop to “hiding” them deep in some pending bill as an “attachment” to a bill, which has been needed to amend the way we handle some of the initial “oversights” when a new law is rushed through legislation without due process and a careful study of ALL of the ramifications of the proposed legislation in the ENTIRE bill. Some refer to such an attachment as “pork”, some of the initiators of such language into or attached to a new law under consideration or in committee will “excuse” the entire bill of maybe a thousand pages or more as “We need this bill PASSED and we all can read the ENTIRE bill AFTER it is passed into law?” Remember that one??
I wonder where the “hidden” agenda is hiding in this new law, still in its infancy and only affecting one city in a myriad of other towns and cities in this great nation?? One has to wonder if there isn’t going to be another “New Dawn” of terms, a “new” usage of deterrents to control public free speech and public protest, or a new wave of control of all of us by a few demagogues in power at any given time in any of our lives. We have seen this happen time and time again in other countries but “surely that can’t happen here?”,
… or can it?
We have already seen this happen in our schools, in the workplace, and in our own homes and family structure. What will be next? Can it be that we, as “modern” humans, have lost our long-term thinking and planning for our lives, our families, and our moral character and personal ethics in the deluge of “freebies”, uncalled for handouts, and power crunching laws into existence for the good of those few who want more power over all of us somewhere down the line? It may take generations sometimes to manipulate the publics’ thinking to arrive at that time and place but rest assured that it CAN be done and WILL be done if the power mongers are left to their own devices.
… Just one old man’s opinion, after nearly 80 years of paying attention to what was happening around him and remembering the choices we once had at our disposal.
Thank you, that was very nicely, clearly and smartly put forth!
Another like yourself…
You guys are as bad as CNN with your need to sensationalize and distort events. Try reporting a story accurately and objectively for a change. Your readers, at least those who appreciate facts instead of spin, might actually take your publication seriously for a change.
Other than a cheeky headline, this story included the news and reactions from people on both sides. Can you show me where the writer editorialized?
What could possibly go wrong? It’s not that I don’t buy off on technology saving lives of civilians or our LEO’s, it’s the simple fact that I just don’t trust the powers that be. Sadly I have to agree with the “Terminator” comments, as silly as it sounds. If we had a govt in place that wasn’t seemingly systematically chipping away at our rights, perhaps I would feel differently.
Well, in one respect I can’t blame them for thinking this, the ‘Defund the Police’ movement has resulted in just this situation.
Besides, that movement should be happy with this, it removes the human element of racism by the individual Cop.
I think this may be the makings of the old adage about being careful what you wish for,
What a great opportunity! Let’s grab one of those and have some IT guys program it. Then, the robot is transported to DC and let loose to “clean-out the nest” of vipers in the capitol. Oh, what poetic justice that would be!!
This has very little difference than drones which are already employed by our military.
Escalation is real and it is never good. Criminals will devise means to overcome this.
However, criminals aside, the scariest difference is it is now already in the hands of people who could/would, if given the chance, use it against a civilian populace that might disagree with their agenda. And there are more waiting.
There is so much hate toward Christians, conservatives, right leaning libertarians, or anyone who might challenge ideals. It is a matter of time before religion itself is identified as a national terroristic threat.
History has paved the trail of escalation into suppression of liberty for the sake of “humanity” and we are racing down that road to the finish.
I agree with Snake — as long as they are human controlled, which limits their functionality, I see no problem. Use them for forward observation AND to eliminate a particularly dangerous target that a human can’t safely reach. It would be just as easy to equip one with a tranq or bean-bag/rubber bullet shotgun, or other non-lethal option as well as a “real” gun. I’m all for saving the public the expense of a trial and taking care of a prisoner for a lengthy time as long as there is a 100% chance he’s guilty — like a shooter who gets cornered and continues shooting at police and won’t come out, for example. But there can still be a non-lethal option for some dangerous situations.
Remember who started defunding the police?
Do those robots identify as ‘non-binary’ …?
Yes, it’s the 537th gender ID category….. mechanosex.
Now, the question becomes, if some circuitry is removed from one robo-cop and placed in another robo-cop, does it now become a trans-mechanosex? Yet, another category?
Liberals: Yes, and you better respect that, or we’ll cancel you!
Whenever those in power make laws like this or use murderous equipment, always ask yourself, will these new powers be used against me???
Terminator– “I’m looking for John Connor. Do you know where he is?”
I thought there was a law against “militarizing” the police.
remember when Dallas gave one a satchel charge and sent it to solve a cop killer problem? Pepperidge Farm remembers 🤣
I can imagine the dirtbag now thinking” what’s this? they sent a buddy to be with me. something painted on my new pal. splody mcsplodeface, KABOOM
Given certain definite criteria, there isn’t any plausible justification for NOT utilizing robots, in lieu of placing police officers at great risk in a deadly confrontation. My immediate concern is that this technology will become too readily available; it’s the sort of thing a lot of suicidal maniacs would love to acquire. “Now I can make a serious statement and still put off that suicide thing…” A remote-controlled, high capacity, well-placed semi-auto rifle would devastate a crowd; citizens who are armed with pistols or revolvers would not be able to cope with that. It would be wholesale slaughter.
Ah yes, just the thing some terrorist cell(already here; thanks Brandon) would love to get their hands on. A nice little “dirty bomb” strapped to robo-cop’s back and away we go!
this is the wrong way to go. this is a continuation of the military escalation of civilian law enforcement upon the public. Are these politicians insane? How do these politicians think the criminals are going to react to this? Do they really believe the criminals are just going to continue as they are with the same weapons? The criminals will escalate as well. This is going to be a step toward Terminator, not Robocop as the politicians have already made that move with this policy change.
It’s going to be abused and then the excuse will be “Qualified Immunity”.
Just some “collateral damage”, no big deal – for the benefit of the many!
Golly, what could possibly go wrong? At least it’s SF. Next stop: the military.
” ROBO-COP meets TERMINATOR ” … And LGBT-Q at that !!!
„What are your thoughts? Are you ready for killer robots?”
Well, to answer the question, having played the old Mech Warrior 2 and 3 games from the mid-late 1990s, which is a video game spin-off from the BattleTech tabletop games, I have already seen much bigger robots controlled by humans, sitting right inside those mechs, killing dangerous threats or even other mechs.
Alright, kidding aside, I think it is actually not such a bad idea, as long as they keep their promise, by really just using those kinds of killer robots in a very specific situation, as it has been stated in the video and in the article, especially when the lives of LEOs are in danger and they cannot face the suspect without suffering any kind of casualties. But I fear that one day, if technology will ever move forward like this, these robots will once be controlled by AI only, which was also the thought that has brought my attention to this article, having first believed that they were talking about automatically controlled robots, which reminds me of the sentry bots of another video game, Doom 3, in which at one point of the game there are even complaints by a worker mentioned about those bots, when one of those suddenly saw a friend as an enemy, after refusing his clearance, and tried to hunt him down, until a coworker was able to smash it with a wrench. And yes, as we are not this far in technology yet, I can, unfortunately, only bring up video games as examples for this topic.
So, as long as these robots are controlled by humans, who truly know what they are doing, and are only being used in very specific situations, then I think it is fine with me to use those. But automatically controlled robots would be a definite No to me.
AI cars aren’t out and about in mass, yet. They keep crashing into things (and people). Given this FACT, what moron would think that a heavily armored/armed AI tool would be a good idea?
I am an old Raven, having played all of the Armored Core games. The only difference is the size. If the populace in America ever start getting more antsy, I can easily anticipate large, lumbering gun platforms working their way down the city streets, shooting anything “suspicious”. Sensor arrays to detect abnormalities in the mass of a human (who might be armed, or might be carrying a child or bag of groceries) could initiate an attack… it’s just, well, so STUPID… what I’m wondering now is WHO built it? Who asked for it? Who’s going to be stupid enough to deploy it? And… what how will the American public respond? Armor-piercing sniper rounds? Smoke to confuse the sensors, then grenades? Where does it stop?
I haven’t known about the Armored Core games yet, so I have taken a quick look on some pictures in the internet. It looks quite like Mech Warrior to me and very fun to play as well. 🙂 Anyway, I was thinking the same thing of what you have mentioned. Can this robot be stopped with armor-piercing rounds and what about explosives? May a simple Molotov cocktail do the job? Personally, I think the greatest disadvantage of those human-controlled robots are the tires, because I think any hit by a bullet on those may stop the robot in coming after you, no matter if it is controlled by a LEO or by an AI.
The problem I have with such an AI, having played tons of video games during my youth and sometimes still coming back for a round or two, is the fact that every AI is still programmed by a human being and humans are making mistakes, me obviously included. Very often, when we stick to video games as examples, the AI is mostly one of my biggest complains, because it often acts stupid, sometimes even very stupid, like you are standing between an enemy and an AI-controlled friend and the friend shoots anyway to destroy the threat, even while you are standing right in his line of fire, getting hit and even killed, Unreal Tournament 2004 is one good example for that. Or, the AI is using a vehicle, while you are on foot, walking right in front of the AI-controlled vehicle, like a tank or a buggy, and it mindlessly runs over you, obviously killing you instantly. No one could tell what a human-programmed AI would be capable of and what happens if the AI suddenly has any kind of malfunction or “false thinking”, as I call it. So, again, I can only hope that the authorities will stick to their very word, using those robots only in very specific situations, when all the other options have been exhausted, and keep them human-controlled, never going this far as making them AI-controlled. Yet, where will we stand with those things in around 20-50 years and how much they have been modified until then, having maybe gotten bigger and more effective/better armored? And will the laws have changed until then, allowing the police to use them not only in very specific situations, but just everywhere? That is for sure one big question to be answered.