Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a ban on attaching firearms and other weapons to robots or drones.
The bill, filed this week by state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa and state Sen. Michael Moore, would make it illegal “to manufacture, modify, sell, transfer or operate a robotic device or an uncrewed aircraft equipped or mounted with a weapon.”
The lawmakers said it would be the first legislation of its kind in the country, if passed.
The bill would also prohibit using a robot or drone device to threaten, criminally harass or physically restrain another person.
Law enforcement officials would also need to obtain warrants before using robots to enter private property or conduct surveillance, under the new legislation.
Those who violate the laws would face fines ranging from $5,000 to $25,000, the bill stated.
However, there are some exceptions. The new laws would not apply to the Department of Defense and its contractors or law enforcement disposing of explosives.
It would also allow private companies testing “anti-weaponization technologies” to be exempt with case-by-case approval from the attorney general.
This move comes as concerns grow over the potential dangers and misuse of robotic weapons and artificial intelligence.
“Very often, the pace of innovation moves faster than critical regulation that protects the public,” said Moore in a statement. “This bill puts reasonable guardrails around the use of robots to harass members of the public and bans the weaponization of this technology by those without strict oversight, while also introducing rules for law enforcement to bolster public trust.”
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