Rick Smith, CEO and creator of Axon, said taser-equipped drones in schools are part of a long-term plan to stop mass shootings.
Axon, originally Taser, is a firm that makes stun guns and body cams for police departments. They unveiled plans to construct a stun-gun-equipped drone and artificial intelligence-powered monitoring systems for schools on Thursday in reaction to a string of deadly shootings.
“Now is the time to make this technology a reality,” Rick Smith, CEO and creator of Axon, said, “and to begin a robust public discussion around how to ethically introduce nonlethal drones into schools.”
Smith said that the drones and monitoring system are “part of a long-term plan to stop mass shootings,” claiming that it could “remotely deploy non-lethal drones capable of incapacitating an active shooter in less than 60 seconds.”
“In the aftermath of these events, we get stuck in fruitless debates. We need new and better solutions. For this reason, we have elected to publicly engage communities and stakeholders, and develop a remotely operated, non-lethal drone system that we believe will be a more effective, immediate, humane, and ethical option to protect innocent people.”
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However, Axon’s ethics advisory board warned against the technology on the same day as the announcement (Thursday).
“With Axon’s acquiescence, the Ethics Board decided to consider only a limited pilot of a Taser-equipped drone, to be used only by the police … Having done this work, and deliberated at length, a majority of the ethics board last month ultimately voted against Axon moving forward, even on those limited terms.
“Axon’s decision to announce publicly that it is proceeding with developing Taser-equipped drones and robots to be embedded in schools, and operated by someone other than police, gives us considerable pause.
“Now, Axon has announced it would not limit the technology to policing agencies, but would make it more widely available. And the surveillance aspect of this proposal is wholly new to us.
Reasonable minds can differ on the merits of police-controlled Taser-equipped drones – our own board disagreed internally – but we unanimously are concerned with the process Axon has employed regarding this idea of drones in school classrooms,” the board tweeted.
Drones with Taser attachments are the most recent example of non-lethal technology that schools could implement. Drones will be the subject of a lot of public debate. Even if they don’t make it into classrooms, police departments may use these drones in the not-too-distant future. While picketing for freedom, conservative activists may face a new menace in the sky: stun-gun drones.