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What Does It Mean When Cops Can Kill a Man With a Robot?
Politics

What Does It Mean When Cops Can Kill a Man With a Robot?

It’s the dark, wee morning hours of July 8, 2016 and Micah Xavier Johnson is holed up on the second floor of El Centro College with a rifle, singing. Eleven people are injured, five police officers are dead. After two hours, the Dallas Police Department has given up on negotiations. A Special Weapons and Tactics team is positioned down the hallway from Johnson, working a pound of C-4 plastic explosive into the arm of the department’s Remotec Andros Mark 5A-1. It’s the C-3PO of police robots. It has video cameras and an arm, but aside from being able to blind someone with a flash or dole out a nasty pinch, it is not a fighter. It was made for bomb disposal, not delivery. This morning, for the first time in police-robot history, it will be used to take a human life. Afterward, news headlines screamed KILLER ROBOTS HAVE ARRIVED. But those headlines miss the point. The robot wasn’t sentient. It didn’t kill somebody; somebody used it to kill somebody else. Much of the debate…