Category Archives: Talks & Conferences

Junior International Law Scholars Association Call for Papers

Colleague Markus Wagner passes along this info:

The Junior International Law Scholars Association (JILSA) is holding its annual meeting on Friday, January 31, 2014, at Berkeley Law School. JILSA is an informal network composed mostly of junior scholars at American law schools who get together annually for a self-funded workshop. Junior scholars and fellows interested in presenting works in progress at the meeting should email proposals to Jean Galbraith and Markus Wagner by Friday, November 8. Please send a working title/abstract and provide a sense of the shape the paper is in. Proposals to present early stage works are also welcome.

There is actually a whole network of excellent conferences for junior legal scholars in a variety of subjects these days. I don’t think they existed when I was junior enough to qualify — if they did, I was certainly blissfully ignorant of them.

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Law Is Where Ideas and Real Life Collide First

Love that line from Wendy Grossman’s net.wars post, The opposite of zemblanity about gikii…which sounds like a fun event (inconveniently scheduled early in the Fall semester).

Here’s how the net.wars entry begins:

A lawyer walks into a bar.

A corporate1 lawyer looks around for unrecognized liabilities.

A commercial lawyer wonders if the bar’s owner wants to sell or expand.

An academic lawyer considers whether the laws that apply to the bar are appropriately framed.

An academic lawyer who goes to gikii starts speculating about the laws that will be needed in ten years’ time when the bar is staffed by robots whose embedded scanners collate customers’ brain structures, which they then print out on 3D organ printers to implant in hungry zombie kittens.

Like We Robot, gikii is lawyers riffing about the future, mixing law, technology, science fiction, and pop culture. Founded, as Richard Fisher writes in New Scientist, by Lilian Edwards and Andres Guadamuz, gikii is a safe space for speculation that, as Edwards put it earlier this week, would get you giggled at elsewhere.

Science fiction is often rightly talked about as the literature of ideas; what I hadn’t realized until first Computers, Freedom, and Privacy and then We Robot and gikii entered my consciousness is that law is where ideas and real life collide first.

(Lots more where that came from, plus links in the above.)

Incidentally, looking up zemblanity. I found this entry at World Wide Words:

In an ideal lexicographical world, every word ought to be matched with its opposite, its antonym. Ever since 1754, when Horace Walpole created serendipity — the ability to make unexpected and fortunate discoveries — it has had to survive without one. It is only recently appeared:

So what is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice and warmth, lush greenery and hummingbirds, seawashed, sunbasted? Think of another world in the far north, barren, icebound, cold, a world of flint and stone. Call it Zembla. Ergo: zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design. Serendipity and zemblanity: the twin poles of the axis around which we revolve.
Armadillo, by William Boyd, 1998.

The reference is surely to Novaya Zemlya, a group of Arctic islands owned by Russia. These were at one time commonly referred to in English as Nova Zembla, which is presumably where Mr Boyd got it from.

Here, according to the Urban Dictionary is an example of how William Boyd used the word:

The inevitable discovery of what we would rather not know.
As she pushed open the door, she knew that she would discover him in flagrante and herself in zemblanity.” — William Boyd

Apparently “Zemblanity” has already appeared in one legal judgment in Ireland in 2012.

  1. Actually that should be ‘a trial lawyer looks for accidents waiting to happen’, but never mind. []
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We Robot 2014 Call for Papers

We’ve posted the We Robot 2014 Call for Papers.

We invite submissions for “We Robot 2014: Risks & Opportunities” – a conference at the intersection of the law, policy, and technology of robotics, to be held in Coral Gables, Florida on April 4-5, 2014. We Robot is now in its third year, returning to the University of Miami School of Law after being hosted by Stanford Law School last April. The conference web site is at

We Robot 2014 seeks contributions by academics, practitioners, and developers in the form of scholarly papers or presentations of relevant projects. We invite your reports from the front lines of robot design and development, and invite contributions for works-in-progress sessions. Through this interdisciplinary gathering, we are encouraging 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 or policy scholars and roboticists.

Robotics is becoming a transformative technology that presents many legal and social challenges. 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, and even to the battlefield disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking of various policy issues.

Scholarly Papers

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

  • Risks and opportunities of robot deployment in the workplace, the home, and other contexts where robots and humans work side-by-side.
  • Issues related to software-only systems such as automated trading agents.
  • Regulatory and licensing issues raised by robots in the home, the office, in public spaces (e.g. roads), and in specialized environments such as hospitals.
  • Design of legal rules that will strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and safety, particularly in the context of autonomous robots.
  • Issues of legal or moral responsibility, e.g. relating to autonomous robots or robots capable of exhibiting emergent behavior.
  • Usage of robots in public safety and military contexts.
  • Privacy issues relating to data collection by robots, either built for that purpose or incidental to other tasks.
  • Intellectual property challenges relating to robotics as a nascent industry, to works or inventions created by robots, or otherwise peculiar to robotics.
  • Issues arising from automation of professional tasks such as unauthorized practice of law or medicine.
  • How legal scholars should think about robots, and how roboticists should think about the legal code.

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. Attendees will need to read papers in advance to understand and participate in each discussion.

Works-in-Progress Presentations

Unlike the scholarly papers, proposals for the works-in-progress presentations 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).

We Robot 2014 will be hosted by the University of Miami School of Law, Coral Gables, Florida on April 4-5, 2014. Venue details are at the conference web site.

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

This is going to be great.

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Off to PLSC ’13

I’m off early today to Privacy Law Scholars, being held in Berkeley CA this year.

There are far too many interesting papers being presented at the same time — I counted six simultaneous presentations I wanted to go to in one time slot. And then there’s my latest crazy idea, that I’ll be presenting in the first session despite it still being in very early stages — although much improved for its excursion in Philadelphia. I will post a link to a copy on the blog … in a draft or two.

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Quick Trip to Philadelphia

Tomorrow I’m going to Philadelphia so that I can give a talk at U.Penn law on Wednesday. I’m going to do something very uncharacteristic and present a true work in (early) progress rather than something rather more baked which is my usual practice.

I do have a different, near-finished, paper, but it’s old enough that I’m no longer in the mood to talk about it. Instead, I’m thinking about this new paper, although it’s so new — just three weeks old — that there’s a substantial chance some step in the argument is just plain wrong and I’ll look silly. Usually I’m too risk-averse for that. But this is what I’m excited about right at this moment, and tenure ought to be good for something.

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Off to New York

I’m off to New York early tomorrow to attend a conference on Differential Privacy being held at Cardozo on Thursday. I hope to learn enough more about Differential Privacy to overcome my skepticism about whether it is actually workable in real life.

Meanwhile, I hear it’s even colder in New York than it is in South Florida. It got down to 45º (7ºC) last night, and the high was only 69º (18º C), although it felt warmer in the sun at lunch. Surely it can’t be much colder than that … although I’m taking a parka just in case.

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Twitter Hashtag for Ohio State LJ Privacy Conference

#osljprivacy is the hashtag for today’s conference on “The Second Wave of Global Privacy Protection” at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law.

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