Taser developer Axon said this week that he would build a drone armed with a great electric weapon that could fly at school and “help prevent the next Uvalde, Sandy Hook, or Columbine.” However, his own technical advisor quickly panned the idea as a dangerous fantasy.
Last year, Tasers and a listed company selling police body cameras proposed the idea of a new police drone product to the Artificial Intelligence Ethics Committee, a group of experts in technology, police and privacy.
Some of them have expressed reservations about weaponizing drones in a color over-police community. But they didn’t expect Axon’s Thursday announcement to send a taser-equipped drone to the classroom to prevent mass shootings by immobilizing invading gunmen.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Axon founder and CEO Rick Smith said: Mass shootings at Uvalde Elementary School, Texas He said he was “catastrophically disappointed” by the police’s response, which had not moved in for more than an hour to kill the suspect.
But on Friday, he emphasized that the product wasn’t on sale and could be available in the future. He felt that this idea needed to be shared now for public conversations about effective ways police can safely confront attackers and how schools can increase safety.
“This is an idea that needs to get into the consciousness of the general public while our minds are open. After another six months, the world changes and people forget this pain and we I felt I would see. It’s not the pain of this problem that we need to solve, but the emotional change that people are trying to focus more on what might go wrong, “he says. rice field.
Axon stock prices rose with the news. However, the announcement has offended members of the Institutional Review Board, some of whom are now likely to resign in protest.
“This particular idea is a crackpot,” said Barry Friedman, a law professor at New York University at the Axon AI Ethics Board. “Drones can’t fly in closed rooms. The physical properties of the universe are still preserved. So unless you have a drone in every classroom in the United States, this sounds insane, but this idea doesn’t work. . “
Friedman is a “dangerous and fantastic idea” that goes far beyond the proposal of a police drone equipped with a taser gun, with board members (former or part of current police officers) in recent months. He said he was discussing.
“We asked the company not to do that,” Friedman said of the company’s announcement. “It was unnecessary and shameful.”
Product ideas have been launched at Axon since at least 2019, and the company has been working to figure out if a drone with a taser is a feasible idea. According to Smith, last year the company created computer-generated art renderings to mock up product design, conducted internal tests, and from drones flying taser darts to transmit electrical shocks to secure. I checked if I could fire it. He added that he had discussed with the Institutional Review Board about the possibility of developing such a product.
A board member who spoke with the Associated Press said he was surprised at the school’s drone proposal, which was noted only earlier this week, and put together a unanimous statement of concern that Axon’s decision was “extremely regrettable.” .. The company tweeted the board’s dissenting opinion shortly after Thursday’s announcement.
“You wouldn’t be surprised if you resigned,” said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. “I think everyone on the board needs to choose whether to stay involved.”
Friedman and Caro described this week’s process as a radical shift from the respectful relationship that Axon executives have had with the board in recent years on controversial topics such as facial recognition. Axon decided to oppose use With that body camera — and an automatic license plate reader.
“The company may or may not accept our advice,” Friedman said. “The important thing is that it happens after thoughtful discussion and coordination. It was thrown out of the window here.”
Smith said the company is still in the very early stages of product development and will continue to consult with the Institutional Review Board with law enforcement officials, community leaders and school officials. He later admitted that the company could later decide that the idea wasn’t feasible and abandon it.
However, he disputed the idea of ignoring concerns from the Institutional Review Board, which aimed to provide guidance and share feedback. Ultimately, the decision is still left to Smith as CEO of the company.
“I’m not ignoring what they said. People can argue and disagree,” Smith said. “I think there is one thing the world can see. Our board is not plaster.”
“I hope they don’t resign,” he added. “I hope they are somewhat proud of our public debate, perhaps after this.”
On Friday “Ask Me Anything” chat On the online forum Reddit. Smith admitted that “school drones can make weird noises,” but continued to answer detailed questions about them. He said they were able to go through the school vents and stop at doors and walls near the ceiling. It may be a “good thing” if you try to shoot it down, as it will prevent the shooter from trying to kill you.
“We’re doing this because we care. We’re a business, so in the end we need to find a working financial model, but after all, our mission is business. We’re successful because we’re driving it. We’ll solve the problems we care about, “he added.
Smith told Reddit users that Axon “never” tries to use the recent tragedy to attract investors. He pointed out the disagreement of the advisory board, but the shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and what he described as a false proposal to arm the teacher with a gun, make a “much broader voice.” He said he had no choice but to publish the idea of the drone.
The company proposes a taser-armed drone to stop school shootings | Associated Press
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