We covered this story the other day, but the San Francisco police department at some point decided it would be a brilliant idea to employ robots with deadly force in their department, causing quite a stir.
Of course, the image that comes to most people's minds is RoboCop.
However, since the news broke, the SFPD has clarified that the robots would not carry guns.
"The SFPD does not own or operate robots outfitted with lethal force options and the Department has no plans to outfit robots with any type of firearm," spokesperson Allison Maxie said in a statement. "As an intermediate force option, robots could potentially be equipped with explosive charges to breach fortified structures containing violent, armed, or dangerous subjects or used to contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspect who pose a risk of loss of life to law enforcement or other first responders by use of any other method, approach, or contact."
Maxie added, "While an explosive charge may be considered an intermediate force option, it could potentially cause injury or be lethal. Robots equipped in this manner would only be used in extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent lives."
They aren't going to shoot people with robots. They're just going to use the robots as suicide bombers to take out bad guys.
That's what the police are saying, but there are, of course, opponents to this plan.
The policy has faced strong criticism ahead of the Tuesday vote.
"We are living in a dystopian future, where we debate whether the police may use robots to execute citizens without a trial, jury, or judge," Tifanei Moyer of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area told Mission Local.
"We have to ask ourselves do we want to be in a society where police kill people with robots? It feels so deeply dehumanizing and militaristic," Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law and information science professor, told NPR.
These robots, like any use of deadly force, should only be used if the situation absolutely calls for it.
It comes down to whether or not we trust the police to faithfully execute their duty and make wise decisions.
I'm glad I'm not the one making that call.