Taser-maker Axon Enterprise Inc. says it will "pause" stun-gun-equipped drone development for schools after some members of its ethics advisory board resigned.
Last Thursday, Axon announced stun-gun-equipped drones and artificial intelligence-powered surveillance systems for schools following the tragic May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Hours after the release, the company's AI Ethics Advisory Board released a statement specifying it instructed the company to limit a pilot program for the taser drone, only to be used by police. The board said a majority voted against moving forward with the project.
"However, in light of feedback, we are pausing work on this project and refocusing to further engage with key constituencies to fully explore the best path forward," Chief Executive Rick Smith said in a press release on Sunday.
"It is unfortunate that some members of Axon's ethics advisory panel have chosen to withdraw from directly engaging on these issues before we heard or had a chance to address their technical questions. We respect their choice and will continue to seek diverse perspectives to challenge our thinking and help guide other technology options that we should be considering," Smith continued.
One of the ethics board members, Wael Abd-Almageed, told Reuters he and eight members resigned from the 12-member panel. He said many on the board had significant concerns the drone could be used beyond schools and "exacerbate racial injustice, undermine privacy through surveillance and become more lethal if other weapons were added."
"What we have right now is just dangerous and irresponsible, and it's not very well thought of and it will have negative societal consequences," he said.
Axon, formerly known as Taser, sells body-worn cameras and policing software to most police departments across the country.
As for now, Axon appears to have shelved the taser drone but shows the dystopic technology coming down the pipe that could be misused by law enforcement and or government agencies against the American people.