Category Archives: Talks & Conferences

At We Robot 2023

I’m at We Robot 2023!  It’s a true delight to see so many old friends, but quite weird to go somewhere not just out of the house but in another city.  And it’s even weirder to be in a room with so many people that is not in a hospital.  I’m also one of only a handful wearing a mask.

We Robot is a workshop-style event, and many of the papers are in progress, which I find much more fun than a diet of fully baked papers where audience comments are too late to have an influence.  We Robot tends more to conversation (and the audience comments/questions are usally terrific).  Also, the norm is that people read papers in advance, and the authors do not present — we go straight to the discussant and then Q&A.  Good times.

I am still immunocompromised, but my doctors said it was OK to go, so long as I was “careful”.  So here I am. We’ll see if there are aftereffects.

Posted in Talks & Conferences | 1 Comment

We Robot 2023 CFP — Boston Sept. 29-30

We Robot 2023 will be in Boston, MA, jointly hosted by the Boston University School of Law and the MIT Media Lab.

We Robot is the most exciting interdisciplinary conference on the legal and policy questions relating to robots. 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 and requires new thinking on policy issues.

If you are on the front lines of robot theory, design, or development, we hope to see you here in Boston. Come join the 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 would also love to have you as a sponsor. If you are interested in discussing sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch.

News and Updates (twitter)

Key Dates

  • March 6: Submissions for papers, posters, and demos open.
  • March 27: Abstracts for papers and proposals for demos due.
  • April 7: We aim to have responses to paper and demo proposals.
  • June 1: Call for posters closes, but acceptances may be offered on a rolling basis (i.e. it may be beneficial to submit earlier).
  • August 31: Full papers due. They will be posted online at the conference web site unless otherwise agreed.
  • September 29-30: We Robot Conference
Posted in Robots, Talks & Conferences | Comments Off on We Robot 2023 CFP — Boston Sept. 29-30

Faculti Video on ‘Safety as Privacy’ Posted

An outfit called Faculti, which presents as a sort of (anti?-)TED talk for nerdier, more detail-oriented people, recently did an interview with me about Safety as Privacy, a paper (co-authored with Phillip Arencibia & P. Zak Colangelo-Trenner), that should be published soon in the Arizona Law Journal. There’s a near-final version of Safety as Privacy at SSRN.

Faculti published the video interview and you are invited to enjoy it. I probably won’t: I don’t much like to listen to myself, much less watch myself, and I can’t shake the idea that I have an ideal face for radio. But the questions they set me in advance were substantive, and I hope the answers were too.

Here’s the paper’s abstract:

New technologies, such as internet-connected home devices we have come to call the Internet of Things (IoT), connected cars, sensors, drones, internet-connected medical devices, and workplace monitoring of every sort, create privacy gaps that can cause danger to people. In prior work [New technologies, such as internet-connected home devices we have come to call the Internet of Things (IoT), connected cars, sensors, drones, internet-connected medical devices, and workplace monitoring of every sort, create privacy gaps that can cause danger to people. In prior work 1, two of us sought to emphasize the deep connection between privacy and safety to lay a foundation for arguing that U.S. administrative agencies with a safety mission can and should make privacy protection one of their goals. This Article builds on that foundation with a detailed look at the safety missions of several agencies. In each case, we argue that the agency has the discretion, if not necessarily the duty, to demand enhanced privacy practices from those within its jurisdiction, and that the agency should make use of that discretion.

Armed with the understanding that privacy is or causes safety, several U.S. agencies tasked with protecting safety could achieve substantial gains to personal privacy under their existing statutory authority. Examples of agencies with untapped potential include the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). Five of these agencies have an explicit duty to protect the public against threats to safety (or against risk of injury) and thus—as we have argued previously—should protect the public’s privacy when the absence of privacy can create a danger. The FTC’s general authority to fight unfair practices in commerce enables it to regulate commercial practices threatening consumer privacy. The FAA’s duty to ensure air safety could extend beyond airworthiness to regulating spying via drones.

The CPSC’s authority to protect against unsafe products authorizes it to regulate products putting consumers’ physical and financial privacy at risk, thus sweeping in many products associated with the IoT. NHTSA’s authority to regulate dangerous practices on the road encompasses authority to require smart car manufacturers to include precautions protecting drivers from misuses of connected car data due to the carmaker’s intention and due to security lapses caused by its inattention. Lastly, OSHA’s authority to require safe work environments encompasses protecting workers from privacy risks that threaten their physical and financial safety on the job.

Arguably, an omnibus federal statute regulating data privacy would be preferable to doubling down on the United States’s notoriously sectoral approach to privacy regulation. Here, however, we say only that until the political stars align for some future omnibus proposal, there is value in exploring methods that are within our current means. It may be only second best, but it is also much easier to implement. Thus, we offer reasonable legal constructions of certain extant federal statutes that would justify more extensive privacy regulation in the name of providing enhanced safety, a regime that we argue would be a substantial improvement over the status quo yet not require any new legislation, just a better understanding of certain agencies’ current powers and authorities. Agencies with suitably capacious safety missions should take the opportunity to regulate to protect relevant aspects of personal privacy without delay.

  1. A. Michael Froomkin & Zak Colangelo, Privacy as Safety, 95 Wash. L. Rev. 141 (2020).[]
Posted in Administrative Law, Law: Privacy, Talks & Conferences | Comments Off on Faculti Video on ‘Safety as Privacy’ Posted

#WeRobot 2021 Recordings Now Availalbe

If you missed any part of We Robot 2021, or you just want to enjoy it again, you’ll be pleased to know we’ve got recordings of the sessions available on line. If you want to read the paper before hearing the discussion (highly recommended!) see the We Robot 2021 program page for links to everything.

Posted in Robots, Talks & Conferences | Comments Off on #WeRobot 2021 Recordings Now Availalbe

#WeRobot Finished With a Bang!

(Metaphorically, only.)

We will have recordings of substantially all the discussions up online in about a week.

Meanwhile, you can still read the papers.  You might want to start with the prize-winners:

… although I’d also like to give a shout-out to two of my personal favorites:

That said, the papers all were really good, which is pretty amazing.

Posted in AI, Robots, Talks & Conferences | Comments Off on #WeRobot Finished With a Bang!

#WeRobot 2021 Starts Today!

Join us for the 10th Anniversary Edition – Register Here. All events will be virtual. All times are US Eastern time.

At We Robot we ask (and expect) that everyone reads the papers scheduled for Days One and Two in advance of those sessions. (The Workshops do not have advance papers.) In most cases, authors do not deliver their papers. Instead we go straight to the discussant’s wrap-up and appreciation/critique. The authors respond briefly, and then we open it up to Q&A from our fabulous attendee/participants. Click on the paper titles below to download a .pdf text of each paper. Enjoy! Or you can download a zip file of Friday’s papers and Saturday’s papers.

We Robot 2021 Program

Download full schedule to your calendar.

We Robot 2021 will be hosted on Whova. We’ve prepared a We Robot 2021 Attendee Guide. You can also Get Whova Now.

We Robot 2021 has been approved for 19.0 Florida CLE credits, including 19.0 in technology, 1.0 in ethics, and 3.5 in bias elimination. Details here.

[table id=6 /]

[table id=7 /]

[table id=8 /]

Posted in AI, Robots, Talks & Conferences | Comments Off on #WeRobot 2021 Starts Today!