Category Archives: Robots

Save the Dates: Next We Robot April 1-2, 2016

We Robot 2016 Small sizeIt seems to get better every year.

But we’ll have a tough act to follow after the success of the 2015 edition!

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We Robot!

cropped-werobot-webheaderI’m at We Robot 2015, aka the 4th Annual Conference on Robotics, Law & Policy at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, WA.

There’s a tremendous list of papers, and tonight we have a special presentation from Tony Dyson — the man who built R2-D2 for “Star Wars,” oversaw special effects for “The Empire Strikes Back” and builds robots for the world’s largest electronics companies.

It’s going to be great.

Plus, mark your calendar for next year: We Robot 2016 will be back at the University of Miami on April 1 & 2, 2016.

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Guest Post at The Volokh Conspiracy

See Self-defense against overflying drones (with Zak Colangelo). It’s a quick summary of some of the arguments in our (draft) paper on Self-Defense Against Robots.

I wonder–am I the most liberal guest-poster ever at Volokh’s blog? Must surely be in the top five at least.

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We Robot 2015 Call for Papers

We invite submissions for the fourth annual robotics law and policy conference—We Robot 2015—to be held in Seattle, Washington on April 10-11, 2015 at the University of Washington School of Law. We Robot has been hosted twice at the University of Miami School of Law and once at Stanford Law School. The conference web site is at

cropped-werobot-webheaderWe Robot 2015 seeks contributions by academics, practitioners, and others in the form of scholarly papers or demonstrations of technology or other projects. We Robot fosters conversations between the people designing, building, and deploying robots, and the people who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots will operate. We particularly encourage contributions resulting from interdisciplinary collaborations, such as those between legal, ethical, or policy scholars and roboticists.

This conference will build on existing scholarship that explores how the increasing sophistication and autonomous decision-making capabilities of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, to the battlefield disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking of various policy issues. We are particularly interested this year in “solutions,” i.e., projects with a normative or practical thesis aimed at helping to resolve issues around contemporary and anticipated robotic applications.

Scholarly Papers

Topics of interest for the scholarly paper portion of the conference include but are not limited to:

  • The impact of artificial intelligence on civil liberties, including sexuality, equal protection, privacy, suffrage, and procreation.
  • Comparative perspectives on the regulation of robotic technologies.
  • Assessment of what institutional configurations, if any, would best serve to integrate robotics into society responsibly.
  • Deployment of autonomous weapons in the military or law enforcement contexts.
  • Law and economic perspectives on robotics.

These are only some examples of relevant topics. We are very interested in papers on other topics driven by actual or probable robot deployments. The purpose of this conference is to help set a research agenda relating to the deployment of robots in society, to inform policy-makers of the issues, and to help design legal rules that will maximize opportunities and minimize risks arising from the increased deployment of robots in society.


We also invite expressions of interest from potential discussants. Every paper accepted will be assigned a discussant whose job it will be to present and comment on the paper. These presentations will be very brief (no more than 10 minutes) and will consist mostly of making a few points critiquing the author’s paper to kick off the conversation. Authors will then respond briefly (no more than 5 minutes). The rest of the session will consist of a group discussion about the paper moderated by the discussant.


Unlike the scholarly papers, proposals for demonstrations may be purely descriptive and designer/builders will be asked to present their work themselves. We’d like to hear about your latest innovations—and what’s on the drawing board for the next generations of robots as well, or about legal and policy issues you have encountered in the design or deploy process.

How to Submit Your Proposal

Please send a 1-3 page abstract outlining your proposed paper, and a c.v. of the author(s) to

  • Paper proposals accepted starting Oct. 1, 2014. See for further information.
  • Call for papers closes Nov 3, 2014.
  • Responses by Dec. 14, 2014.
  • Full papers due by March 23, 2015. They will be posted on line at the conference web site unless otherwise agreed by participants.

We anticipate paying reasonable round-trip domestic coach airfare and providing hotel accommodation for presenters and discussants.

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We Robot Happened

And it was A Happening. The papers were strong, and the presentations if anything stronger. David Post wins for best line of the 2-day conference, and I’ll link here to his video when we have it up in a few days. (Unedited video can be found at the livestream site)

Meanwhile, however, we had some media at and around the event:

I really think it was the best We Robot yet. I should recover soon.

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We Robot is Today & Tomorrow

We Robot 2014 is happening today and tomorrow. We have a great lineup of papers, all of which you can download and read from our Program page. There you can also see our schedule, and follow along on the livestream or via our own proprietary live video feed. Everything will be broadcast except the demos, which take place in different rooms.

The papers seem strong this year, so there’s plenty to read and think about.

I co-authored a paper this year on “self-defense against robots,” which is a fun topic. The paper is actually quite a basic application of tort law to robot issues – it’s one of those papers you write to lay a foundation for other papers. But as far as I know, no one else had written it, so I hope it is useful.

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Interviewed by @pfunkmedia

I was interviewed today by @pfunkmedia about #We_Robot. You can hear the podcast — I’m the second half.

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