It’s no longer science fiction or unreasonable paranoia. Now, it needs to be said: No, police must not be arming land-based robots or aerial drones. Thats true whether these mobile devices are remote controlled by a person or autonomously controlled by artificial intelligence, and whether the weapons are maximally lethal (like bullets) or less lethal (like tear gas).

Police currently deploy many different kinds of moving and task-performing technologies. These include flying drones, remote control bomb-defusing robots, and autonomous patrol robots. While these different devices serve different functions and operate differently, none of them–absolutely none of them–should be armed with any kind of weapon. 

Mission creep is very real. Time and time again, technologies given to police to use only in the most extreme circumstances make their way onto streets during protests or to respond to petty crime. For example, cell site…

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