Category Archives: Robots

Dispatch from We Robot 2103

I’m at We Robot 2013, which is being held at Stanford and has a strong business focus. One of the many interesting moments this morning was watching Josh Blackman play this video…

… and then explain how misleading it is. Apparently, this sort of service is only possible after a team of Google engineers have driven the route several times and made adjustments. So it’s not like the car can just show up outside your house and take you everywhere you want to go.

So far, the big topics are IP and tort. I guess that’s the sign of a technology going to market.

PS. Here’s a sneak peak of the cool logo for We Robot 2014, which will be held at the University of Miami on April 4 & 5, 2014.

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Wagner on Robotic Autonomy in the Battlespace

Fans of law and robots may want to take a look at my colleague Markus Wagner’s latest, Autonomy in the Battlespace: Independently Operating Weapon Systems and the Law of Armed Conflict.

The article analyzes the use of autonomous weapon systems (AWS) and the challenges that such systems pose with respect to compliance with the law of armed conflict. Importantly, AWS pose different questions than those surrounding the current use of unmanned aerial systems. For that reason, the article briefly sketches the history of AWS. It then distinguishes the current technologies, which operate either by way of remote control or through automated mechanisms, from systems which are currently under development and which operate either wholly autonomously or at least at a higher level of autonomy and without direct human input while carrying out their missions (II.).

Part III. provides a detailed analysis of AWS under the principle of distinction and the principle of proportionality. It argues that while AWS may be able to satisfy the former principle under certain conditions, it is not clear that the same is true for the latter. The critical challenges with respect to the principle of proportionality and its applicability for AWS is manifold. The principle is difficult to apply in the abstract and thus is difficult to “translate” into machine code in a manner that allows it to be applied to real-life situations and changing circumstances. This problem originates in the lack of a generally accepted definition of what exactly the principle of proportionality requires in each situation. The article therefore concludes that current technology is incapable of allowing AWS to be operated within the existing framework of the law of armed conflict. While there may well be situations in which these requirements are met, these situations include only a fraction of modern military operations and AWS do not provide additional benefits over existing weaponry for these situations. Part IV. provides concluding observations.

PS. Don’t forget We Robot 2013 is at Stanford this year, April 8 & 9, 2013 (RSVP here).

And here’s news: We Robot 2014 will be back in Coral Gables, April 4 & 5, 2014.

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Social Consequences of Autonomous Vehicles

Lots of food for thought in Deven Desai’s Autonomous Vehicles: Unintended Upsides and Changes. In just a few paragraphs he suggests that self-driving cars could change policing, insurance, local government revenue and even parenting.

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Robot Update

The We Robot 2013 conference will be in Stanford — and back in Miami for 2014. Paper proposals are due Friday. The conference will be April 8-9, 2013 at Stanford Law School and the theme is “Getting Down to Business”.

Meanwhile the folks here at UMiami have been getting into the spirit of thing, and produced this amazing magazine cover for the inaugural issue of Miami Law Magazine

I had some work done

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Great Writeup of We Robot 2012

Wendy Grossman, A really fancy hammer with a gun, captures a lot of what was good about our conference.

I understand NPR will be doing a story, but we don’t know if/when it will run.

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We Robot 2012 Videos Online Soon

We Robot 2012 logoThe We Robot conference went very, very well. We should have videos uploaded in about a week. I’ll post links when I have them.

Meanwhile, here are some mini-videos shot by the UM Law staff during the conference.

Now I’m going to go get more rest…

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We Robot — Day 2 Coming Up

We Robot 2012 logoOur first day of We Robot 2012 was, I think, about as great as it could be. It was particularly interesting to see papers from very different perspectives,a bout often quite different topics, converging on a set of shared concerns.

One of them is how we should think of a robot — is it a tool, like a hammer, or it something more?

The question of ‘robot agency’ will in fact be the lead-off for today’s program.

The Miami Herald did a write-up of our final panel yesterday, Brave new world of robot litigants, soldiers, escorts, which plays up the sensationalist aspects of the conference, but makes good reading. You’d never guess though that we also talked about whether robot ethics should have a deontological perspective. Then again it’s not as sensationalist as this concoction, in which the New Times took a stray remark of mine, in which I observed that it was a good thing the drones purchased by Miami-Dade police were not armed, and ran with it (We Robot 2012 Conference at UM Plans for Violent Machine Uprising).

Remote participation is easy: use the Live Video Stream or the Live Video Stream For Mobile Devices. There are links to all the papers for We Robot 2012. And we’re tweeting up a storm with hashtag #werobot.

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