We Robot 2012: Call for Papers

I’m very pleased to announce the call for papers for ‘We Robot: Setting the Agenda’ — a conference on legal and policy issues relating to robotics to be held in Coral Gables, Florida on April 21 & 22, 2012.

Call for Papers

The University of Miami School of Law seeks submissions for “We Robot” – an inaugural conference on legal and policy issues relating to robotics to be held in Coral Gables, Florida on April 21 & 22, 2012. We invite contributions by academics, practitioners, and industry in the form of scholarly papers or presentations of relevant projects.

We seek reports from the front lines of robot design and development, and invite contributions for works-in-progress sessions. In so doing, we hope to encourage 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.

Robotics seems increasingly likely to become a transformative technology. This conference will build on existing scholarship exploring the role of robotics to examine how the increasing sophistication 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:

  • Effect of robotics on the workplace, e.g. small businesses, hospitals, and other contexts where robots and humans work side-by-side.
  • 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.
  • Issues relating to robotic prosthetics (e.g. access equity issues, liability for actions activated by conscious or unconscious mental commands).
  • Relevant differences between virtual and physical robots.
  • Relevant differences between nanobots and larger robots.
  • 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 legal automation such as unauthorized practice of law or medicine.

These are only examples. We are very interested in papers on other topics as the purpose of this conference is to help set a research agenda relating to the 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 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

We request a proposal to robots@law.miami.edu by Jan. 12, 2012 consisting of:

  • An up to three-page synopsis of the paper or presentation, and
  • The author’s or authors’ c.v.

Acceptance decisions will be communicated by Feb. 6, 2012.

Expressions of interest to serve as a discussant should include a c.v. and are also due by Jan 12, 2012.

Full text of accepted papers will be due by April 2, 2012. Papers will be posted online unless submitters’ publication requirements elsewhere necessitate that their paper be-password protected for attendees-only pending publication.

Who Should Attend

We hope this conference will attract a diverse group of participants including:

  • Roboticists, engineers, and computer scientists
  • Medical practitioners
  • Philosophers and ethicists
  • Regulators and others interested in public policy issues relating to robots
  • Lawyers, both academic and advisers to those who produce or use robots

The law school will pay reasonable travel and lodging expenses for presenters of accepted papers and for their discussants. Presenters of works in progress, for which a paper is not required, will ordinarily be expected to be self-funding.

A limited number of spaces will be available for self-funding attendees.

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