Axon Enterprise, formerly Taser International, a maker of stun guns, has abandoned plans to build a stun-dart drone for use in US schools. As the Reuters news agency first reported, the company’s AI ethics advisory board has vehemently opposed the project. Nine out of twelve members of the Ethics Council have therefore resigned in protest, reports Reuters on Monday.
In early June, in response to the May 24 school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, Axon announced that it was working on a drone that could remotely fire Taser darts at a target about 12 meters away. The taser gun is not deadly, writes Reuters. But it could be used to stop gunmen in schools, for example, and thus possibly avoid injuries and deaths. Rick Smith, head of Axon, estimated that such a system would cost around 1,000 US dollars a year, about 940 euros per unit.
Against the Ethics Committee
The plans were publicly announced by the company against the wishes of its own ethics committee. The members had previously only been informed about a slimmed-down version of the project. Originally, the technology was only to be issued to police stations, but not directly to schools.
According to the Guardian, the ethics committee had already intervened when it was handed over to the police and spoke out against the proposals. In May, eight of the 12 Ethics Council members voted against a limited police pilot test. Their fear: The drones could exacerbate the already existing racial injustice, further restrict privacy and the drones could possibly later be equipped with deadly weapons. Despite the objections, Axon decided to continue the project after the school massacres.
The concept would not work in schools because drones, for example, could not fly through closed doors. So you would have to equip every single classroom with a drone, which seems crazy, said Barry Fiedmann, former chair of the ethics advisory board. He also resigned. Smith wrote on Reddit that he knows having drones in schools might sound crazy. “Only it doesn’t get any crazier than another mass school shooting.” Smith believes that the problems of moving the drone around a school could be practically solved. For this purpose, special openings were to be created for the drones so that they could get into the classrooms from the corridors.
In a statement, the resigning members of the Ethics Advisory Board made their concerns clear: Armed drones are not a solution. They would only distract society from real solutions to a tragic problem.
Faced with the resignation of the majority of the Ethics Council, Smith backtracked: “In light of the feedback, we are pausing work on this project and focusing on continuing to work with key groups to find the best way forward,” he said. He regretted the resignation of part of the Ethics Council. However, the Taser-capable drone is not a finished product anyway, but just an idea whose feasibility and public acceptance must be examined. The project will therefore be paused for so long.
To home page
#Axon #puts #Taser #drone #schools #hold