Axon suspends Taser drone plans due to the resignation of a member of the Ethics Board

When nine members of the Institutional Review Board resigned, Axon, the company that developed the Taser gun, announced on Sunday that it would suspend development plans for stun gun-equipped drones that could be used to prevent mass shootings. ..

After the shootings in Buffalo and Uvarde, Texas last month, Axon founder and CEO Rick Smith said he could use a non-lethal taser to prevent shootings in schools and elsewhere. Announced a gun proposal. According to Smith, drones can “play the same role that sprinklers and other fire extinguishing tools do to firefighters, that is, prevent catastrophic events, or at least mitigate their worst effects. can do”.

The announcement on Thursday came a few weeks after a majority of Axon’s ethics committee voted to recommend that the company not carry out pilot studies attempting to scrutinize the concept of taser-equipped drones. I was.

The ethics committee will soon Official statement On Thursday, he said he had no time to consider the proposal and Axon’s decision was “extremely regrettable.”

Three days later, on Sunday, nine out of thirteen members of the Ethics Commission announced that Smith would resign. Smith said in a statement on Sunday that Axon would suspend plans for the drone project. It was unclear whether the decision to cancel the project was made before or after the board members told Smith that he was going to resign.

“It’s a shame that some members of Axon’s Ethics Advisory Board have chosen to stop being directly involved in these issues before they have the opportunity to hear or address technical questions. “Mr. Smith said. “We respect their choices, challenge our thinking, and continue to look for diverse perspectives to help guide other technology options we should consider.”

“No one was expecting an announcement,” the nine directors who resigned said in a statement on Monday.

“We all feel we need to do something to deal with the mass shooting epidemic,” they said. “But Axon’s proposal to strengthen the technology and police response when there are far fewer harmful alternatives is not a solution. Prior to Axon’s announcement, we begged the company to withdraw. But the company fought ahead in a way that surprised many of us, alleging that it was trading the tragedy of Uvalde and Buffalo shootings. “

“I know it sounds a bit ridiculous to some,” Smith said in an announcement of the Axon concept. He provided three warnings: non-lethal drones must not have the ability to kill. Humans, not drones, need to control the behavior of the drone. And drones will need “strict surveillance”.

“For example, if a shooter comes to church and a drone is deployed to defeat the shooter, we can’t simply support its success,” Smith said. “We need to scrutinize and scrutinize the video.”

A resigned board member said in a statement that the institutional review board had warned the company for years about the use of products that could monitor people in real time.

“This kind of surveillance definitely harms the color community and others who are over-supervised, and probably goes far beyond that,” they said. “The taser-equipped drone also has no real chance to solve the mass shootings that Axon is currently prescribing. It just diverts society from the actual solution to the tragic problem.”

Barry Friedman, director of police projects at NYU School of Law, one of the resigned directors, said in an interview that Axon was pleased to cancel plans for a drone project and the company wants to do so. Stated. Abandon it altogether.

“I think it’s very important to find a way to limit the adoption of technology. This is a harm to privacy, a harm to racial justice, or the amount of data the government holds for all of us. It happens frequently with little concern about it, something that the government has access to, “he said.

Gilles Herdale, one of the four board members who decided not to resign, said he hopes to stay on board “to mitigate all the harm caused by these developments.” Stated.

Hardale, Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank specializing in security issues in London, said:

“The concept of arming drones and other autonomous robots is a very broad decision, so deploying these types of technologies requires very careful and careful consideration and a lot of guardrails,” he said. Said.

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