EXCLUSIVE Axon Halts Taser Drone Work As Most Of Its Ethics Panel Said To Resign.

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Taser-maker Axon Enterprise Inc (AXON.O) says it’s halting work on a project to equip drones with stun guns to combat mass shootings. A prospect that a member of its AI ethics board told Reuters was prompting an exodus from the panel.

The May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 children and two teachers. This prompted an announcement by Axon last week that it was working on a drone that could operate remotely by first-responders to fire a Taser at a target about 40 feet (12 m) away.
“Considering feedback, we are pausing work on this project and refocusing to further engage with key constituencies and explore the best path forward,” Chief Executive Rick Smith said in a statement on Sunday.

The aim of such groups is to gather feedback on emerging technologies, such as drones and artificial intelligence (AI) software.it was unfortunate that some members have withdrawn from directly engaging on these issues before we addressed their technical questions.
He said Axon “will continue to seek diverse perspectives to challenge our thinking and help guide other technology options that we should be considering.”

The company first approached its ethics board more than a year ago about running a limited police pilot with Taser-equipped drones, which members voted eight to four against, said Abd-Almageed, an engineering research associate professor at the University of Southern California.

CEO Smith acknowledged limitations and uncertainties around the project. Noting a drone without a Taser may be enough on its own to distract a shooter. Smith wrote that drones could be stationed in hallways and move into rooms through special vents. A drone system would cost a school about $1,000 annually.


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