Category Archives: Robots

Drone Debate

In a Wall Street Journal debate today I argue that drones should not be allowed to overfly private property without the inhabitant’s consent due to the privacy risks, the consequent erosion of the 4th Amendment, and other dangers. This echoes some of the arguments in Self-Defense Against Robots and Drones, the recent Connecticut Law Review article I wrote with Zak Colangelo.

Ryan Calo gives the other side, arguing that overflights should be allowed in order to spur innovation. I think the WSJ sees him as the Bolshevik here, as they sum up the debate like this:

A. Michael Froomkin, the Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein distinguished professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law, says that drones pose a huge threat to security and privacy, and that property owners should be able to keep them from flying over their land. Ryan Calo, an assistant professor of law at the University of Washington, says decisions about where and when drones can fly should be made collectively, not by individual landowners.

Who would have imagined I’d be the right-winger in a debate on the pages of the Wall Street Journal? I suspect that my former boss, Judge Stephen F. Williams, would be quite amused, although he’d probably describe it as vindication.

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Spear 1 Drone 0

At a festival in Russia, a costumed re-enactor was preparing for a mock battle when he spotted an aerial invader from the future filming the action. Footage shows the medieval knight hurling his spear at the camera drone and knocking it out of the sky. The spear thrower later apologized for getting carried away, although there’s now talk of making drone spearing an official event next year.

— Renee Montagne, Hurled Spear Takes Out Camera Drone : NPR

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Robot Radio

Ian Kerr and i had a great time talking robots on WLRN’s Topical Currents. They’ve posted the podcast as Our Robot Future And Bizarre Circumstances To Ensue and now you can listen too.

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On Topical Currents Today

TC-Logo-smI’m going to be on WLRN’s “Topical Currents” call-in show today at 1pm, to discuss our book Robot Law, and the topic of robots more generally. I’ll post a link to the podcast version when I have it.

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Zeitgeist Alert


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Media Advisory: Robot Law Book Launch

 “Robot Law” Addresses Law, Ethics, and Philosophy in the 21st Century

New book discusses driverless cars, drones, sexbots, and more

CORAL GABLES, FL — “Robot Law” might sound like science fiction, but it’s an increasingly important area of law, and the title of an exciting new book from Edward Elgar Publishing.

“We assembled this book because robots are on the precipice of creating a number of significant social challenges that law is currently ill-equipped to address,” says co-editor and chapter author, University of Ottawa law professor Ian Kerr.

Kerr joins co-editors Ryan Calo (University of Washington School of Law) and A. Michael Froomkin (University of Miami School of Law) at the “Robot Law” book launch at the University of Miami. The event takes place at 12:30 p.m. on April 1, and is part of the annual We Robot conference.

“Robots have great potential to take on unpleasant, difficult, or boring tasks, but they also present real risks that require careful planning by designers and by policy-makers,” writes Froomkin. “The technical issues are far more complex than lawyers tend to imagine, and the legal, ethical, and philosophical issues more controversial … than engineers tend to imagine.”

“Robot Law” tackles complex technical, ethical, and legal issues raised by robotics, such as driverless cars, killer robots, sexbots, and drones. The authors explore the increasing sophistication and utility of robots—from home and hospitals, to public spaces and the battlefield—and raise serious philosophical and public policy concerns. According to Calo, the book presents readers with “a perfect snapshot of the early days of an exciting new field.”

The 424-page collection includes research from engineers, ethicists, lawyers, roboticists, philosophers, and military personnel, and features original cover art by acclaimed artist Eric Joyner.

“This is an important book for academics, policy-makers and future legal decision-makers; but other folks will love it too,” says Kerr. “I mean, really. Who doesn’t love robots?”

Event Details:

“We Robot” Book Release Event
12:30 p.m. on April 1
University of Miami Newman Alumni Center
6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, FL, 33146

Robot Law”
Edited by Ryan Calo, A. Michael Froomkin, and Ian Kerr
Cover art by Eric Joyner
Edward Elgar Publishing, $165
ISBN:  978 1 78347 672 5

About Ryan Calo:
Ryan Calo is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law and co-director of the University of Washington Tech Policy Lab. He is an affiliate scholar at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society and the Yale Law School Information Society Project. He also serves on numerous advisory boards, including the University of California’s People and Robots Initiative, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Without My Consent, and the Future of Privacy Forum.

(more) (twitter)

About A. Michael Froomkin:
Michael Froomkin is the Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law and an Affiliated Fellow of the Yale Information Society Project. He is the founder of the We Robot conference, and is on the Advisory Boards of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Future of Privacy Forum.

(more) (twitter)

About Ian Kerr:
Dr. Ian Kerr holds the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. He also holds cross-appointments to the Faculty of Medicine, the Department of Philosophy and the School of Information Studies. His research focuses on the ethical and legal implications of artificial intelligence, robotics and implantable devices.

(more) (twitter)

About We Robot:
We Robot is an interdisciplinary conference on the legal and policy questions relating to robots for those on the front lines of robot theory, design, or development. The fifth annual conference takes place April 1-2 in Coral Gables, FL, at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center.

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Media Contacts

Ian Kerr, University of Ottawa

A. Michael Froomkin

We Robot press inquiries and media credentialing:
Catharine Skipp
Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs
University of Miami School of Law Office of External Affairs
1311 Miller Drive, G357, Coral Gables, FL 33146
P: 305-284-9810
C: 305-773-5801

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