Roosevelt Islander Online: Roosevelt Island & UES Side NYC Council Member Ben Kallos Proposes NYPD Abide By Assimov’s Laws Of Robotics

Roosevelt Island and UES
NYC Council Member Ben Kallos, also a candidate for
Manhattan Borough President
introduced a bill
requiring the NYPD to, at least in part, abide by the spirit of
Issac Assimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics

According to the
NY Post:

He doesn’t want Robocops joining the NYPD.

A new city council bill would ban Big Apple cops from using “weaponized”

“The bill says that you can’t weaponize robots in a way that can harm
people,” Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who told introduced the
legislation last week, told The Post on Sunday….

Council Member Kallos issued
this March 18 press release:

No Killer Robots Act Sought by Council Member Ben Kallos

After videos of the NYPD utilizing a robot dog in the Bronx went viral last month,
New Yorkers have debated the merits of utilizing military technology to
police neighborhoods and how groundbreaking robot technology will affect the
lives of New Yorkers.
As a result, Council Member Ben Kallos is introducing Int. 2240 which would expand the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology or POST Act, which requires the NYPD to be more transparent on its surveillance
and technology tools. The expansion would create a ban against weaponizing
remote or autonomous robots that interact with the public in the City of New
“No one wants a future where our City looks and feels like a Black
Mirror episode,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “The
technology to arm robots already exists and in order to prevent anything
like that from happening we have to act now before the technology gets ahead
of the laws.”
“After years of unchecked growth, it’s time to ground the NYPD drone
program,” said Surveillance Technology Oversight Project Executive Director Albert
Fox Cahn.
 “Killer robots may sound science fiction, but they’ve already been
used by other police departments. If the NYPD is willing to waste more than
$70,000 on a robotic spy dog, we can’t really know what is next. Council
Member Kallos’s bill would be a landmark protection against the next wave of
NYPD drones. We urge the council to take action immediately.”
While the Boston Dynamics robot “Digidog” tested by the NYPD was teleoperated and not currently
equipped with weapons, there is no policy or transparency on all current and
future capabilities of technology loaned to or procured by New York City law
enforcement.  For example, as explained in a recent Curbed article, the robot has a “docking function that can instruct the robot to ‘return
home’ by just pushing a button”, a clearly autonomous function with
potentially harmful ramifications for citizens.
The concern for weaponized military technology has grown concurrently with
concerns for municipal law enforcement departments utilizing military
technology while policing neighborhoods. Locally, recent examples of
the city’s use as a testing ground for innovative policing technology, such
as IBM’s software testing enabling law enforcement to search
surveillance video footage for skin color
, have led to an outcry over the lack of oversight and
This legislation is in line with international efforts to ban all robotic
weaponry that can make lethal decisions intentionally (known as lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) or accidentally with no ability for human intervention,
including efforts to adopt an international treaty. The NYPD’s exploration of utilizing military technology and weaponry
in New York neighborhoods demands statutory oversight on formally banning
certain controversial technology with weaponized capabilities.
A recent survey conducted by the market research company Ipsos and commissioned by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots shows widespread concern for allowing this technology, with 62% in


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