As dystopian as it sounds, the bots being proposed aren’t exact replicas of the T-800. According to the proposal, “Robots will only be used as a deadly force option when risk of loss of life to members of the public or officers is imminent and outweighs any other force option available to SFPD.” The robots will also be remote controlled, and only authorized officers will be allowed to operate the bots, and special training sessions will be required.
If the proposal passes, the department may not have to go bot shopping. They already have 17, which they acquired before January this year, though five are not currently functioning. The robots aren’t all designed to kill either. Some are built for bomb disposal, others are designed to investigate “dangerous and hazardous material while keeping its operator out of harm’s way,” and there is one that basically looks like a reconnaissance drone. Legislators are due to vote on the proposal on Nov. 29, but there is strong indication it won’t pass. The city’s neighbor, Oakland, recently rejected a similar proposal put forward by its own police department. Even if it does pass, the fact that it still requires a human to control it and make all of its decisions is a silver lining. At least nobody is trying to use the killer AI powered robots Elon Musk has been warning us about for years. Not yet anyway.