back to article San Francisco terminates explosive killer cop bots

San Francisco legislators this week changed course on their killer robot policy, banning the police from using remote-control bots fitted with explosives. For now. On Tuesday, the city's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to explicitly prohibit lethal force by police robots following a public backlash and worldwide media …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    San Fransisco

    Home of hand-crafted artisanal personalised Police shootings

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look I wish you people would stop misrepresenting it as bombing. It's urban renewal.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Look I wish you people would stop misrepresenting it as bombing. It's urban renewal.

      The RAF, for all your bespoke overnight urban renewal needs

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        The RAF do have a habit of missing all the Germans when they are lined up on the balcony of SW1A 1AA.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          The problem with an violent revolution in dear old Blighty - is that the royals have all the guns.

          I think Prince Philip on the balcony with a pair of shotguns is quite an effective air defence.

          1. TheRealRoland
            Thumb Up

            I would be scared of that as well, since he's been dead since, what, April 2021? Also, "Air Offense", I would think.

          2. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Hang on, what? Our air defence is now based upon arming zombies with shotguns?

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              We prefer the term "residual human resource" in the laundry

              1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

                "Respirationally challenged" is also acceptable.

              2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                I thought there might be a significant el'reg / stross crossover

                1. Valeyard

                  BOFH = bob oliver francis howard from the laundry...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    17 robots unemployed because cops replace them.

    What are those 17 robots doing now? Search shows nothing. Bought with no plan in mind. Maybe a kickback was involved.

    Even in todays world of active shooters, they almost always have hostages and/or kill themselves quickly, and/or are driving away, in which case the exploding robots are no use.

    Solution in search of a problem. Another problem is that when you have a shiny hammer then things start to look like nails just because you want to hammer on something. OK, the chance of that kind of mistake might be small, but so is the chance SF would actually have a static holed up active shooter without hostages that could be approached by a bomb carrying robot.

    And never, ever would there be 17 such cases on the same day. So what are those robots for?

    If such robots were really needed (not saying they are, but for the sake of argument, suppose they are) it could be done at the state level, and require civilian governor approval. A few robots for the whole state with a few state trooper operators trained to use them. Dispatched on need.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: 17 robots unemployed because cops replace them.

      17 ARMED, explosive-laden, kamikaze robots unemployed because cops replace them !

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: 17 robots unemployed because cops replace them.

        In the news: The UK welcomes 17 unemployed US immigrants...

        [later that day] Urban renewal of 17 Job Centre Plus sites... #!Shebang!

        [Mines the one with "I <3 Robots" emblazoned on it!]

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: 17 robots unemployed because cops replace them.

      > So what are those robots for?

      As you said, gifting some money into the right hands, those hands who will scratch your back (or have already done it).

      Bomb carrying robots are a nonsense, as you already said the use cases are few. Having one, just in case, might indeed be justified (so you don't have to sacrifice a useful and expensive bomb disposal one), maybe two if the first one is in maintenance when you need it, but having 17 of those makes no sense, even with redundancy and spares. How many people do you plan to blow up per month?

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: 17 robots unemployed because cops replace them.

      "And never, ever would there be 17 such cases on the same day. So what are those robots for?"

      Well, not that it's a good idea, but if you decided that bomb-carrying robots were necessary, you'd want some spares because I'm not sure exactly what state one would be in after it detonates its payload. I'm guessing it requires some significant repair if it's not scrapped outright, so the latency between using one and having it repaired or replaced could be a while. Again, not saying this justifies having them, but just as we keep some extra laptops around just in case one breaks and we want to get up and running faster, if you're going to have one robot bomber, you'd probably have some backups for that as well.

  4. Michael Hoffmann Silver badge

    Is it true...

    ... then when they hit the shutdown button, all the little diagnostics displays briefly showed a single phrase: "I'll be back!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it true...

      An attempt at humour, one supposes?

    2. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Article 5

      If they're shutdown under Article 5 they're replaced with the backup computer, which will make you do 500 jerks followed by a 3 mile run. (Consciousness optional.)

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Article 5

        Jape of the decade!

        1. theOtherJT Silver badge

          Re: Article 5

          "We're talking April, May, June, July and August fool!"

  5. jollyboyspecial

    I was wondering what had happened to the first law

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      First Law

      It was superceded by the Zeroth Law, as codified by Daneel Olivaw.

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: First Law

        Giskard go sleepy night-night now...

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      It's still there, we're just testing whether XKCD was right about the order mattering so much.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        I was always dissatisfied with that one. I, Robot was an exploration of the importance not just of the order of the laws, but of the need for the order to be absolute. I feel more credit should have been given.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          The comic is clearly referring to those laws, including the firm order as set forth in the stories. I don't remember the stories showing what happens in the preserve robot > preserve humans scenario, perhaps because the answer is so obviously bad for humans that it's not worth investigating. Many of the stories also called attention to the weakness of the laws, one which becomes all the more obvious when dealing with either human-like AIs or something with limitations (either technical or artificial) as would be seen if we built robots today. I don't feel XKCD's quick joke either mistreats the original stories or is even all that redundant to them.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            In one story, work was being done in an environment with elevated radiation levels. Slightly more dangerous for humans, instantly deadly for androids. There was no stopping the "Human in danger!" reflex, so the androids were constantly frying their brains. So a special robot was made that would not "endanger human life through action". As opposed to "through action or inaction". The result was bad.

            In another case, a half-hearted command was given to an android to perform a task which endangered it. Because of the weak command, the android (the only one on the mission, and the one responsible for various critical functions of the mission) basically went crazy.

            So it's not enough that 1 > 2 > 3, it's more like 1 >> 2 >> 3. And Randalf skimmed over that.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    US logic

    We want to use our robots to save lives – not take them..

    So we want be able to kill people. With robots.

    In the meantime, more than 300,000,000 guns are circulating in the US.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: US logic

      Once again machines taking jobs from honest hardworking American serial killers

    2. Marty McFly Silver badge

      Re: US logic

      Civilians should have access to the same law enforcement tools. Disarming citizens and restricting access to like-for-like tools results in a police state, leading to tyranny & oppression. Don't tell me it won't happen, Human history shows it has happened repeatedly. Disagree at your own ignorance.

      Therefore.... If cops get remote controlled exploding robots, then I want one too!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US logic

        this soooo much is the case in Australia, people living in fear on a day to day basis

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: US logic

        I want one too!

        RC toy car + used smartphone + home-made explosive. Yes, with the last you need to be a bit careful, but as this is an anti-personnel weapon it doesn't need to be a lot. The old "gasoline vapor in a container" type, or even a powder-dispersal arrangement, would probably do.

        I'm not recommending this, just pointing out that these "robots" are fancy remote-control toys, and the sufficiently foolhardy could easily rig something similar up. More easily than, say, manufacturing a quality gun.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    SF bailed...

    Detroit out bid them! I for one welcome my good buddy ED-209!

  8. SonofRojBlake

    "We just stopped the use of killer robots robots in SF"

    Oh yeah? I can still see Robocop and Terminator, though, right? Just, no NEW SF with killer robots in it? Or am I missing something...?

  9. very angry man

    get with the program

    we cant trust Robots, we need Hi Breds, Judge Dreed is the only option!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not really robots

    Not really robots though are they. more like remote controlled cars with cameras

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