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San Francisco Votes Down Killer Robots After Fierce Backlash

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More than 100 people protested a policy allowing robots to use lethal force at San Francisco City Hall. Dozens of activist organizations opposed it, too.
In a hasty retreat, San Francisco lawmakers have reversed a vote allowing local police to use remote-controlled robots equipped with lethal explosives in extreme situations. The move comes after a wave of backlash from the community and activist organizations.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 Tuesday on a revised version of the policy, which now prohibits police from using robots to kill people. Tuesday’s vote was a surprise turn of events after the board approved the policy last week, including a clause allowing for the lethal bots. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the board rarely changes its mind on second round votes, which are typically seen as formalities. However, since the first vote on Nov. 29, the policy has received a wide range of criticism both locally and nationally. Lawmakers will debate the issue for another week before voting on yet another version of the policy next week.
On Monday, more than 100 people gathered to protest the killer robot policy at City Hall, according to board supervisor Dean Preston, one of the lawmakers who led the effort to reject the policy. The same day, 44 local organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU of Northern California, and the San Francisco Public Defender, sent a letter voicing their opposition to the policy to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors.

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