Taser drone? Why is this not a good idea?

Taser maker Axon is finally abandoning its plan to build a taser-equipped drone after nine members of the artificial intelligence ethics committee resigned. Axon, an American company known for developing stun guns and products for the police and military, wanted to market the product as a way to stop mass shootings in that country.

The last tragic episode of these mass shootings occurred on May 24: an 18-year-old schoolboy armed with a machine gun killed 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalda, a town west of San Antonio.

The reaction of the Axon AI Ethics Committee to this Taser drone idea was swift and decisive.

“We wish it didn’t come to this”

“We all desperately feel the need to do something about our epidemic of mass shootings. But Axon’s proposal to prioritize technology and police response when far less dangerous alternatives exist is not the answer,” we can read in a statement from outgoing members. advice.

It took a year to get there. Axon presented the idea of ​​a combat drone to the ethics committee and faced concerns about misuse of the system. The original idea was to use the drone to shoot the shooters, but nothing could stop the agencies from using the drone for other purposes. The ethics committee recognized this and set limits.

“We’re sorry it didn’t come to that. Each of us joined this council in the belief that we can influence the direction of the company in ways that reduce the harm that police technology can do and make better use of it. But we have seen this impact. we’ve seen some of Axon’s decisions, from refusing to equip one of its products with facial recognition, to removing a new software tool that collects data from social networking sites, or pushing for much-needed legislation to control the use of license plate readers. tangible evidence that we are doing better. Our insistence to Axon that the community, not the police, the company’s end customer, has led Axon to create the Community Consultants Coalition, a group that brings community leaders together to share their perspectives on Axon’s products and services.”

Combat drones and drone surveillance spark deep controversy

But the decision to continue developing the unmanned system discouraged the outgoing members.

“Just a few weeks ago, a majority of this council—8 votes to 4—recommended Axon not to conduct a limited pilot study to test the concept of a taser-equipped company. In this limited project, a stun gun-equipped drone was only intended to be used in situations where it could prevent a police officer from using a firearm and therefore potentially save a life. a responsible pilot will be required if the company makes the Axon proposal and our discussions public.”

Everything didn’t go as planned.

“None of us expected the announcement made by Axon last Thursday, June 2, regarding a completely different use case. This statement, namely that the company’s goal is to eliminate the countless drones that have been pre-positioned and electroshocked in schools and public places, leads us to conclude that after many years of work, society has fundamentally failed to accept the values ​​that we tried to instill.”

Armed drones and unmanned surveillance are deeply controversial. Concerns about excessive use of force by the police have led the ACLU and others to take a strong stand against armed drones, while privacy advocates fear the consequences of widespread surveillance of drones by government agencies.

For now, Axon has backed off, but it’s likely that we’ll see other companies in the field doing similar showdowns in the future.

Source: “.com”

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