Axon’s Ethics Board Resigns Over Armed Drones in Schools

Some of Axon’s AI Ethics Board members resigned over the new idea to start using armed drones for school surveillance. Read the news here.

Nine out of 12 Axon’s AI Ethics Board members decided to leave their position, expressing visible discontent over the company’s new plan to introduce Taser-equipped drones into schools as a surveillance system to prevent mass shootings.

The now-former members stated that the company has completely “failed to embrace the values” they were trying to instill. They also stated they had lost their faith in the company’s ability to take accountability as a partner.

The Board was established a couple of years ago and had the main purpose of providing valuable suggestions and insights into how to best harness the powers of AI and machine learning.

The perspective of the Board had a direct contribution to preventing these kinds of systems from being poorly built, misused in whichever way, or both. 

With the context in mind, the latest event had left the AI Ethics Board outraged when, with short notice, Axon decided to announce the idea of generalizing the use of Taser-equipped drones, further bypassing the Board’s warnings and not giving them enough time to respond.

Despite the resignation warnings of the Board members, should the idea continue to develop, Axon decided to keep pursuing the plan, which has since led to such action.

This act, alongside the less-than-positive feedback from others in the community, has motivated Axon’s CEO, Rich Smith, to acknowledge in a blog post that the company’s plan may have been too rushed. The CEO stated that Axon will be “pausing work on the project” until further notice.

As the world of artificial intelligence continues to skyrocket year-over-year, technology is proving itself to be an important part of securing and enforcing the law. But only when done at the right pace and not rushed as it may be in this case.

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