San Francisco to Vote on Using AI, Drones, And Security Cameras to Fight Crime

( – The City of San Francisco is voting on a controversial new ballot initiative that would authorize police to deploy the use of drones, facial-recognition, and AI technology to address the city’s problem with rampant criminal activity. Proposition E, renamed to “The Safer San Francisco initiative,” is being heralded by Mayor London Breed. The city will vote on the measure on Tuesday, March 5.

Residents have a history of being opposed to the use of surveillance technology. They banned the use of facial recognition tech in 2019 over privacy concerns and the potential for the technology to be abused or misused.

Breed suggested that there are “safeguards” which would prevent that, but many are still suspicious. Breed argued that technology is everywhere, including in all our phones. She said that advancement was impossible to stop, “whether we want it or not.” Regardless, citizens will still have an opportunity to stop the advance if they vote down the measure.

ACLU representative Matt Cagle opposed the initiative and sounded the alarm regarding anecdotal evidence that the technology won’t help. He said his organization has had reports of black people being arrested for crimes they are innocent of after facial recognition tech misidentified them.

Supporters believe that the constant car thefts, muggings, and retail thefts have aggravated the populace to the point where they’ll endorse the measure. San Francisco has been unable to recover in the post pandemic period after many skilled workers left the city or began to work remotely. Its downtown is dotted with human excrement and tent cities.

The measure would see the city install more surveillance cameras in public places that would be connected to a database allowing the cameras to engage in facial recognition and tracking in real time. Something similar is already in operation in China.

FBI data suggests that San Francisco has a very high petty crime rate, much higher than other cities its size.

Enforcing laws and prosecuting offenders is another way criminal activity could be stopped. Disgraced former District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled in 2022 for his failure to prosecute offenders.

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