In 2018, Rick Smith, founder and CEO of Axon, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based manufacturer of Taser weapons and body cameras, became concerned that advances in technology were creating new and challenging ethical issues. So, he set up an independent AI ethics board made up of ethicists, AI experts, public policy specialists, and representatives of law enforcement to provide recommendations to Axon’s management. In 2019, the board recommended against adding facial recognition technology to the company’s line of body cameras, and in 2020, it provided guidelines regarding the use of automated license plate recognition technology. Axon’s management followed both recommendations.

In 2022, the board recommended against a management proposal to produce a drone-mounted Taser designed to address mass shootings. After initially accepting the board’s recommendation, the company changed its mind and, in June 2022, in the wake of the Uvalde school shootings, announced it was launching the taser drone program anyway. The board’s response was dramatic: Nine of the 13 members resigned, and they released a letter that outlined their concerns. In response, the company announced a freeze on the project.