Axon’s Taser Drone plans lead to the resignation of the AI ​​Ethics Board | MarketingwithAnoy

A majority of Axon’s AI ethics board resigned in protest yesterday after one executive order last week, the company planned to equip drones with Tasers and cameras as a way to end mass shootings in schools.

The company backed up its proposals Sunday, but the damage had been done. Axon had first asked the adviser Board of Directors to consider a pilot program to equip a select number of police departments with Taser drones last year and again last month. A majority of the Ethics Advisory Committee, made up of AI ethics experts, law professors and advocates of police reform and civil liberties, was against it both times. Advisory Board Chairman Barry Friedman told WIRED that Axon has never asked the group to review a scenario involving schools and that the launch of the pilot program without addressing previously stated concerns is dismissive of the board and its established process.

In a joint letter of resignation published today, nine members of the AI ​​Ethics Board said the company appeared to be acting on the tragedy of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. Despite mentioning both mass shootings in one Press release During the announcement of the pilot project, Axon CEO Rick Smith rejected claims that the company’s proposal was opportunistic in a Reddit AMA. Smith said a Taser drone could still be free, but that he envisions 50-100 Taser drones in a school run by trained personnel. Before Axon put the pilot project on hold, Freidman called it a “poorly thought out idea” and said that if the idea is unlikely to become a reality, then “Axon’s pitch distracts the world from real solutions to a serious problem.”

Another signatory to the letter of resignation, law professor Ryan Calo at the University of Washington, calls Axon’s idea of ​​testing Taser drones in schools “a very, very bad idea.” A meaningful change to curb gun violence in the United States requires confronting issues such as alienation, racism, and widespread access to weapons. The children’s death in Uvalde, Texas did not happen, Calo says, because the school lacked Tasers.

“If we are to tackle the prospect of violence in schools, we all know there are much better ways to do it,” he says.

The board expressed concern that armed drones could lead for increased use of force by the police, especially for colored communities. A report outlining the advisory board’s evaluation of a pilot program is due out in the fall.

The real disappointment, Calo says, is not that the company did not do exactly what the board advised. It’s that Axon announced its Taser drone plans before the board could fully detail its opposition. “Suddenly, out of nowhere, the company just decided to abandon that process,” he says. “That’s why it’s so discouraging.”

He finds it hard to imagine that police or trained staff at a school will have the situational awareness that they can use a Taser drone wisely. Even if a drone operator successfully saved the lives of suspects or people in marginalized or vulnerable communities, the technology would not stay there.

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