A robot designed to dispose of bombs in war zones has been used to deliver a bomb to a suspected shooting spree perpetrator.
According to theverge.com, experts think this is the first time a robot has been used in such a way.
Is this new?
Of course, you could argue this is no different to any other tool used by man to kill man.
Drones are controlled by a human operator, and deliver remote destruction. Warships can be used to launch barrages of unattended devastation hundreds of miles away.
The key difference here is this is a localised innovation. During the course of the standoff, the police on the ground had the idea to use a bomb disposal robot to deliver death and destruction: and were able to implement it immediately.
In the good old days, ideas were born, developed in a lab, tested in the field and deployed gradually. This process included (where appropriate) space and time for popular debate and legal/ethical deliberation.
In this case, police in a tough situation improvised with the tools available, and effectively resolved the situation without introducing any new risk. There was not however the time for a dispassionate ethical debate.
The problems that society faces today regarding ethics and technology is not that the 21st century is bringing up new types of dilemma, but that the pace of decision making supported by technological advancements doesn’t allow time for due diligence: either at the personal level or the state level.