Massachusetts lawmakers are proposing a new bill that would ban the attachment of firearms and other weapons to robots and drones. If passed, this legislation would be the first of its kind in the United States. The bill, filed by state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa and state Sen. Michael Moore, seeks to make it illegal to manufacture, modify, sell, transfer, or operate a robotic device or an uncrewed aircraft equipped with a weapon.
In addition to the weaponization ban, the bill also includes provisions that would restrict the use of robots and drones to threaten, harass, or physically restrain individuals. Law enforcement officials would be required to obtain warrants before using robots for purposes such as entering private property or conducting surveillance.
The penalties for violating these laws would range from fines of $5,000 to $25,000. However, there are a few exceptions to the proposed legislation. The Department of Defense and its contractors, as well as law enforcement agencies disposing of explosives, would be exempt from these restrictions. Private companies testing “anti-weaponization technologies” could also apply for individual approval from the attorney general to be exempt.
The introduction of this bill reflects growing concerns about the potential dangers and misuse of robotic weapons and artificial intelligence. State Sen. Michael Moore highlighted the need for regulations that keep up with the pace of innovation to protect the public. The proposed legislation aims to establish reasonable guidelines that prevent the harassment of individuals by robots and ensure strict oversight of weaponized technology. It also seeks to reinforce public trust in law enforcement by introducing rules for their use of robots.
Overall, this bill represents an important step towards addressing the challenges posed by the increasing adoption of robotic weapons and the need for responsible regulation in this emerging field.
– Massachusetts state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa and state Sen. Michael Moore [no URL]
– Taylor OBier, September 16, 2023, [no URL]