San Francisco Police Approved to Use Lethal Robots

    Photo: US Navy/EPA [via The Guardian]

    The Facts

    • On Tuesday, San Francisco, Calif. officials voted to give police the ability to use remote-controlled and potentially lethal robots in emergency situations.

    • Following an intense two-hour debate, officials voted 8-3 in favor of the robots, despite concerns raised by civil rights and police watch groups.


    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Despite the hysterical label "killer robots," the SFPD's use of the robots in the field will only occur when the risk of loss of life to police officers or civilians outweighs any other force option available to the department. The robots don't have guns, and their use of explosives is confined to breaching fortified structures or disorienting violent subjects. Robots can be used correctly with the right protocols.

    Narrative B

    As has been the case with other police militarization efforts, deploying explosive-armed robots is a slippery slope toward using them in everyday practice. Though officials claim robots will only be used for dire situations, over time, they could be used to monitor every protest and every street corner. This is dystopian and dangerous.


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