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San Francisco’s ruling Board of Supervisors has voted to let the city’s police use robots that can kill.

The measure permits police to deploy robots equipped with explosives in extreme circumstances.

Dr Catherine Connolly, from the group Stop Killer Robots, said the move was a “slippery slope” that could distance humans from killing.

The city’s police – the SFPD – told the BBC they do not currently operate any robots equipped with lethal force.

They said though that there may be future scenarios in which lethal force could be used by a robot.

A spokesperson for the police said “robots could potentially be equipped with explosive charges to breach fortified structures containing violent, armed, or dangerous subjects”.

They also said robots could be used to “incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects who pose a risk of loss of life”.

Source: BBC News

Date: January 13th, 2023



  1. Killer robots! The article actually does suggest that the SFPD could use robots to deploy lethal force. A discussion with students about why this makes sense would be useful
  2. A discussion with students about the difference between autonomous robots and human-directed robots would be very important here.

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