[robotics-worldwide] No Justice, No Robots [News]

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[robotics-worldwide] No Justice, No Robots [News]

Tom Williams
*The following is an open letter from a group of Colorado Roboticists,
expressing our concern regarding the militarization of local law
enforcement, and their increased acquisition of robotic technology.  It can
also be found at https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://nojusticenorobots.github.io__;!!LIr3w8kk_Xxm!4qThv5Kp4XbX-R-UbGHxu--z-O33AdkivCoc-pAVEpQV6LahP_JornwIzvKOQS_ZG3sK96-U$ 
an up-to-date list of signatories, and a form that can be used by other
roboticists to add their signatures. *
"We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and
forget the rest.” (Russel-Einstein Manifesto, 1955)

Our nation is in a state of turmoil due to the violent response to protests
over the murders of people of color by U.S. police. Recent events have
shone a spotlight on the brutal and racist policing behaviors of our
nationwide network of local law enforcement agencies, as well as the
dangers of a police force that is heavily militarized, unaccountable, and
untrained or unwilling to build ties with their communities. In cities
across the U.S., police have been deploying chemical weapons, vehicles, and
less-than-lethal rounds, against peaceful protesters, children, bystanders,
and members of the press -- especially against members of our BIPOC (Black,
Indigenous and People of Color) communities. While the technologies used in
the service of police brutality has, thus far, been confined to those
technologies described above, there is significant risk of future misuse of
robotic technologies by police forces, especially as police forces around
the world continue to adopt robotic technologies.

We acknowledge that there are excellent researchers doing valuable work
with local law enforcement agencies, and that there are local police
departments that have not demonstrated brutality. We also acknowledge that
law enforcement is important for many societally beneficial projects.
However, we also acknowledge that the history of American law enforcement
has its origins in fundamentally racist endeavors such as slave patrols,
and that these origins continue to influence modern law enforcement
institutions. We also acknowledge that police forces in many of our own
communities have actively demonstrated brutality and racism towards our
communities, coupled with poor judgment in their acquisition and deployment
of equipment. As such, we cannot in good faith trust these police forces
with the types of robotic technologies we are responsible for researching
and developing.

The strongest protection against future misuse is likely to be based in
policy and legislation to provide necessary oversight and protection of
civil liberties. We believe that the clearest path toward preventing this
misuse is to (1) pass legislation requiring state and local governments to
acquire informed public consent before acquiring robotic technologies,
similar to Senate Bill S1358; (2) advocate for policies that decrease
police departments' ability to acquire robotic technology, and that instead
work towards community health, education, and affordable housing; and (3)
where police acquisition of robotic technology cannot be curbed, advocate
for appropriate training in the use of such technology, and for policing
strategies that are oriented around community-oriented policing.

While we agree to advocate for such policy decisions, it is nevertheless
important to recognize that policy decisions are ultimately out of our
control, and that we must thus take whatever additional actions that are
within our control. Accordingly, we additionally pledge the following

   1. We refuse to facilitate the execution or publication of research in
   robotics or Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is performed in collaboration
   with State and Local Law Enforcement agencies (or national agencies such as
   ICE and CBP).
   2. We refuse to pursue or accept funding for research projects whose
   express goal is development of robotic technologies or AI technologies
   (e.g., nonconsensual face recognition technologies, predictive policing
   models, etc.) intended for use by such agencies.
   3. For those of us who are affiliated with colleges and universities, we
   pledge to petition our universities to divest themselves of all ties with
   law enforcement agencies that have demonstrated brutality, prejudice, or
   white supremacist tendencies.

Tom Williams (Asst. Prof., Colorado School of Mines)
Kerstin Haring (Asst. Prof., University of Denver)
Brad Hayes (Asst. Prof., University of Colorado, Boulder)
Elizabeth Phillips (Asst. Prof.)
Alessandro Roncone (Asst. Prof., University of Colorado)
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