Axon has canceled plans to build a taser-equipped drone for schools

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The flying taser drone is pre-installed on the school ceiling, so police officers fire one within seconds of the reported shooting, steer into a locked classroom through a special vent and shock darts. You can surprise the shooter with and shout commands like this: Will be hit again. “

It was, at least, a proposal that the giant Axon, who had a contract with the police, defended last week after the Uvalde school slaughter. However, the company subsequently discontinued the project following the mass resignation of its advisors who militarized the school and panned the project as a crackpot dystopian fantasy that could hurt children.

The shock drones they were worried about stunned innocent students and were abused by hackers, vandals, and police. Even if properly deployed, they may not be enough to get the gunman out. Some have pointed out that the problem in Yuvalde was not a lack of firepower. Nineteen police officers waited 47 minutes outside the classroom door and falsely believed that the children inside were no longer at risk.

“It’s clearly a bad idea to use these in a school context, which means it’s ridiculous,” he said. Ryan Calo, one of nine members of Axon’s Artificial Intelligence Ethics Advisory Board, resigned to protest the company’s pursuit of ideas, said Ryan Calo. “You can’t deal with the tragedy of these horrific nations … by throwing a taser at the drone.”

Critics have spotlighted the security theater where this idea routinely colors the country’s reaction to gunfire, and the actual tragedy that occurs in the United States much more often than anywhere else on the planet. He said he promised an unfounded sense of security rather than safety.

Instead of focusing on guns, companies are responsive and problematic in encouraging legislators to focus elsewhere, bulletproof backpacks, school surveillance software, facial recognition scanners, and stopping future slaughter. We sell other systems that claim to be ineffective.

Police at a small school in Yuvarde were in charge and could not enter afterwards

Axon, who manufactures various taser guns under the common rubric “energy weapon,” refused to make executives available for interviews. Founder and Chief Rick Smith said in a statement on Sunday that the response to the project “provided a deeper understanding of the complex and important considerations for school shock drones,” he added. I did. The solution to stop the shootings has led us to act swiftly to share our ideas. “

He had previously suggested that the system could be up and running within two years, but the idea is still a “far road” and the company is “feasible” for such drones. He said he needed to investigate.

Smith said it was “regrettable” that board members resigned before the company “had the opportunity to answer technical questions” and “sought diverse perspectives” to advise on other technical ideas. He added that he would continue.

However, in a statement on Monday, a resigned board member said the drone “has no real chance of resolving the shootings that Axon is currently prescribing, it just diverts society from the actual solution.” Said.

“Before Axon’s announcement, we begged the company to withdraw,” the members said. “But the company fought ahead in a way that surprised many of us, alleging that it was trading the tragedy of the shootings of Yuvalde and Buffalo … [It] It’s more than any of us can follow. “

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Axons have become one of the largest police contractors in the United States, thanks to the sale of worn cameras and taser guns. These weapons fire electric shock thorns that surprise and subdue a person.

Axon touts the Taser gun as “less lethal,” but last year’s USA Today survey killed more than 500 people shortly after the shock. Police officers with pistol-type weapons also accidentally pulled pistols, including the deadly shooting of the Killing of Daunte last year.

The company convened an AI ethics committee in 2018 to consider enabling facial recognition on body cameras and eventually refused. Critics were concerned that it could lead to dangerous misidentifications, protests and automatic monitoring of other public events. “I don’t want to create Orwell just to make money,” Smith said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Board advice is not binding and the company can ignore it. However, an independent combination of paid technical and legal professionals believed that Axon had had productive discussions over the years in pursuit of license plate scanners and other monitoring tools, Washington University said. Calo, a professor of technology and law, said.

About a year ago, Axon asked the board if executives needed ranged attack capabilities and could ethically deploy shock drones in their life-threatening scenarios. After the deliberations, the board said in a statement that the company needed to implement safeguards to make the idea “very plausible.”

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The board voted last month that the company shouldn’t push the idea forward, saying that weaponized drones could force police “in over-police communities and color communities” more often. Stated. Members were preparing a complete report to be released this fall on whether the project should be marketed to police.

So Smith on Thursday publication The company has “started formal development” of a shock drone that can be used in a much wider range of roles to “stop” school shooting, promising to “neutralize the threat within 60 seconds.” Is shown.

and Video announcement Smith featured a slow-motion video of a drone firing darts, saying the company has already built a test system and has begun the design phase of the system, which is expected to take about two years to build. The company’s concept rendering shows that the quadcopter drone is equipped with four cameras, a darts firing barrel, a speaker, and a “precision aiming point laser.”

“I was waiting for the politician to solve the problem, so we’re going to solve it,” Smith said. Said.. “I’m going to do this.”

Smith has been promoting this idea for years. This idea is also included in the graphic novel “The End of Killing” where drones zapping gunmen rampaging around day care centers. And in a Q & A session at Reddit the day after the announcement, Smith said the idea might “sound strange,” but it’s a bit more than a “today’s solution” to deal with shootings. He said he knew there were benefits. gun. “

The license plate scanner should have brought peace of mind. Instead, they tore the neighborhood.

He said the shock drone was installed in a ceiling-mounted “launch station” like a smoke detector and shielded to prevent “children throwing things.” He said the school could install a “simple, low-cost vent” above the door to fly the drone into a locked room.

The drone fires a payload of up to four shock probes over 40 feet, supplying sustained current and helping nearby people to kill the drone or hold a gun for enough time to help the attacker. Can be. The drone would be small and difficult to shoot, he wrote, and “after running out of darts, we could hit someone with the drone and physically distract it.”

Schools and police agencies pay an estimated $ 1,000 a year for each drone, and said the company will only sell in “non-abuse” markets.

The Federal Aviation Administration in 2018 banned flying drones with dangerous weapons. However, Smith said such “legal restrictions” could be resolved over time. Taser’s weapons and body cameras were also illegal in some states before Axon began selling them, he said.

The company “has a long history of working in situations where the law doesn’t support our technology — and did so when people realized what we were trying to do,” he writes. ..

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During a Reddit session, Smith was asked how to handle pushbacks from parents who don’t want to fly a shock machine near their children. “Many parents will find this situation more comfortable than the armed guards stationed at the school,” he said.

However, the reaction on Reddit was burned. Some commentators are worried that drones may have unintended consequences, such as punishing students, disbanding fights and police protests, and more people being shot after the shooter is shocked. Was there.

Others have wondered if Axon is using momentary emotions to attract investors or sell products. They also said the proposal was a sad commentary on America’s weak response to the national crisis.

“The fact that we are brainstorming about drones at school, whether motivated by capitalism, parental instincts, or both, means that our society is already quite ill. “I will,” wrote one commenter. He wrote another article: “You love dealing with symptoms, not the root cause.”

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