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WeRobot 2014 Conference Videos

If you missed WeRobot 2014 or want to enjoy it again, videos of all the speaker sessions are now available for viewing online. We’ve also included links to all the papers below. See the full program for complete lists of authors.

April 4th

Morning

Welcome Remarks with Thomas J. LeBlanc and A. Michael Froomkin

Regulating the Loop: Ironies of Automation Law with Meg Leta Ambrose and Elizabeth Grossman (Read the paper)

Proxy Prudence – Rethinking Models of Responsibility for Semi-autonomous Robots with Jason Millar and Peter Asaro (Read the paper)

Robots as Labor Creating Devices: Robotic Technologies and the Expansion of the Second Shift with Ann Bartow and Jodi Forlizzi (Read the paper)

Afternoon

Panel on Robots and Social Justice, moderated by Kate Darling

April 5th

Morning

Chief Justice John Roberts is a Robot with Ian Kerr, Carissima Mathen and Jack Balkin (Read the paper)

When Robot Eyes Are Watching You: The Law & Policy of Automated Communications Surveillance with Kevin Bankston, Amie Stepanovich and Neil Richards (Read the paper)

Robotics and the New Cyberlaw with Ryan Calo and David G. Post (Read the paper)

Afternoon

A Conservation Theory of Governance for Automated Law Enforcement with Woodrow Hartzog, Lisa A. Shay, and Mary Anne Franks (Read the paper)

Panel on Domestic Drones moderated by Dan Siciliano

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Discussants and Moderators: Day Two – April 5th

We Robot 2014 presentations feature Discussants and Moderators who are in integral part of the conference. Discussants are the lead speakers in their session and are responsible for presenting the main themes of the paper and offering their views. Moderators are the ringmasters of their panels.

Jack M. Balkin

Jack M. Balkin

Jack M. Balkin will be the Discussant for Ian Kerr and Carissima Mathen’s paper Chief Justice John Roberts is a Robot on Saturday, April 5th at 8:30 AM in the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Balkin is the Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School and the founder and director of Yale’s Information Society Project, an interdisciplinary center that studies law and the new information technologies, as well as the director of the Knight Law and Media Program and the Abrams Institute for Free Expression at Yale. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the author of over a hundred articles in different fields including constitutional theory, Internet law, freedom of speech, reproductive rights, jurisprudence, and the theory of ideology. He founded and edits the group blog Balkinization and is a correspondent for the Atlantic Online. He has written widely on legal issues for such publications as the New York Times, the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Prospect, Washington Monthly, the New Republic Online, and Slate. His books include: Living Originalism; Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World; The Constitution in 2020 (with Reva Siegel); Processes of Constitutional Decisionmaking (5th ed. with Brest, Levinson, Amar, and Siegel); Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology; Cybercrime: Digital Cops in a Networked Environment (with James Grimmelmann et al); The State of Play: Law, Games and Virtual Worlds (with Beth Noveck); The Laws of Change: I Ching and the Philosophy of Life; What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said; and What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said.

Neil Richards

Neil Richards

Neil Richards is the Discussant for Kevin Bankston and Amie Stepanovich’s paper When Robot Eyes Are Watching You: The Law & Policy of Automated Communications Surveillance on Saturday, April 5th at 10:00 AM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Richards is an internationally-recognized expert in privacy law, information law, and freedom of expression. He is a professor of law at Washington University School of Law, a member of the Advisory Board of the Future of Privacy Forum, and a consultant and expert in privacy cases. He graduated in 1997 from the University of Virginia School of Law, and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. His first book, Intellectual Privacy, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2014.  Prof. Richards’ many writings on privacy and civil liberties have appeared in prominent legal journals such as the Harvard Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the California Law Review, among others. He has written for a more general audience in Wired Magazine UK, CNN.com, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Prof. Richards appears frequently in the media, and he is a past winner of the Washington University School of Law’s Professor of the Year award. At Washington University, he teaches courses on privacy, free speech, and constitutional law. He was born in England, educated in the United States, and lives with his family in St. Louis. He is an avid cyclist and a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club.

David G. Post

David G. Post

David G. Post is the Discussant for Ryan Calo’s paper Robotics and the New Cyberlaw on Saturday, April 5th at 11:30 AM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Post is currently Professor of Law at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University, where he teaches intellectual property law and the law of cyberspace. He is the author of In Search of Jefferson’s Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace (Oxford), a Jeffersonian view of Internet law and policy and winner of the 2009 Green Bag Legal Writing Award; Cyberlaw: Problems of Policy and Jurisprudence in the Information Age (West); and numerous scholarly articles on intellectual property, the law of cyberspace, and complexity theory (including Law and Borders: The Rise of Law in Cyberspace, the second most frequently cited law review article in the field of intellectual property). Post received his Ph.D. in physical anthropology from Yale and his J.D., summa cum laude, from Georgetown Law Center, and clerked for Judge and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court. His writings and additional information may be found online at www.davidpost.com.

Mary Anne Franks

Mary Anne Franks

Mary Anne Franks is the Discussant for Gregory Conti, Woodrow Hartzog, John C. Nelson and Lisa A. Shay’s paper A Conservation Theory of Governance for Automated Law Enforcement on Saturday, April 5th at 1:45 PM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Franks is an Associate Professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Family Law. She also serves as the Vice-President of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about cyber harassment and advocates for legal and social reform.Her research and teaching interests include cyberlaw, discrimination, free speech, and law and gender. Prior to joining the Miami Law faculty, she was a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and a Senior Consultant for a negotiation consulting firm. Prof. Franks received her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She received her D. Phil and M. Phil from Oxford University, where she studied on a Rhodes Scholarship.

F. Daniel Siciliano

F. Daniel Siciliano

F. Daniel Siciliano is the Moderator for the We Robot Panel on Domestic Drones on Saturday, April 5th at 3:15 PM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida. Siciliano is the Faculty Director of the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford Law School. He is a legal scholar and entrepreneur with expertise in corporate governance, corporate finance, and immigration law. At Stanford Law he is also associate dean for executive education and special programs and co-director of Stanford’s Directors’ College. He is also the co-originator of the OSCGRS (Open Source Corporate Governance Reporting System) Project. Siciliano is the senior research fellow with the Immigration Policy Center and a frequent commentator on the long-term economic impact of immigration policy and reform. His work has included expert testimony in front of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Prior to joining Stanford Law School, Siciliano co-founded and served as executive director of the Immigration Outreach Center in Phoenix, Arizona. He has launched and led several successful businesses, including LawLogix Group—named three times to the Inc. 500/5000 list. Siciliano serves as a governance consultant and trainer to board directors of several Fortune 500 companies and is a member of the Academic Council of Corporate Board Member magazine.

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Kevin Bankston and Amie Stepanovich on “When Robot Eyes Are Watching You: The Law & Policy of Automated Communications Surveillance”

When Robot Eyes Are Watching You: The Law & Policy of Automated Communications Surveillance
Kevin Bankston and Amie Stepanovich

Robots are reading your email, right now.

Whether it’s the NSA scanning for suspicious keywords, Google trying to divine your interests so that it can serve better ads, or your ISP scanning for viruses and spam, computers are routinely scanning the content of your private messages, along with those of millions of other Internet users. Sometimes with your knowledge and consent. Sometimes not.

Kevin Bankston

Kevin Bankston

Many privacy advocates and civil libertarians argue that having robots read your email is just as bad as having a human do it—perhaps even worse, considering robots can work at a much greater scale and speed, and have perfect memories. Others, like Judge Richard Posner, have argued that there’s no privacy violation at all unless a sentient being is doing the violating, and that automated filtering for relevant communications actually protects privacy by preventing humans from looking at the wrong messages. Both Google and the NSA routinely defend their practice of scanning millions of people’s private communications by saying that there are strict limits on which emails people can actually look at. Is that enough?

Amie Stepanovich

Amie Stepanovich

This paper explores what the growing trend toward the automated analysis of masses of private communications means for the law and policy of privacy and surveillance, and will ask the question: when if at all does it “count”, from a privacy policy and privacy law perspective, if a robot is reading your email? Does a government robot’s reading of your email constitute a search or seizure of that email under the Fourth Amendment? And does robotic scanning of your email count as an “intercept” that is regulated by the federal wiretapping statute? This paper examines both questions, looking to statutory and constitutional case law to conclude that from a privacy perspective, having a robot read your email is just as bad—and may be even worse—than its being read by a human.

Kevin Bankston and Amie Stepanovich will present When Robot Eyes Are Watching You: The Law & Policy of Automated Communications Surveillance on Saturday, April 5th at 10:00 AM with discussant Neil Richards at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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Peter Asaro on Robots, Micro-Airspaces, and the Future of “Public Space”

Robots, Micro-Airspaces, and the Future of “Public Space”
Peter Asaro

Peter Asaro

Peter Asaro

In United States v. Causby, the Supreme Court conceptualized airspace as a “public highway.”  In the same decision, the Court recognized that landowners must be able to “exercise exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” in order to exercise full enjoyment of their property.  The precise boundaries of public and private space have always been contested; however, the lack of clear legal definition of “public space” is increasingly problematic given the growing availability and use of drones.

How should the law conceptualize “public space” in relation to drones and robots?  Do drones present legitimately new issues for “public space” jurisprudence, or do they simply present issues of scale? Are there micro-airspaces surrounding individuals and special places that merit the recognition of an increased private interest in airspace?  In what contexts should the law privatize or enclose portions of the “public highway” in favor of protecting privacy rights?  How can the law reconcile a largely public airspace with diverse privacy expectations on the ground?  Should there be restrictions on the use of thermal, infrared, millimeter, or other advanced sensor technologies in the airspaces around public and private spaces? And, to what extent can local and state authorities develop or effect tailored regulations surrounding personal and commercial use of airspace?

Peter Asaro will present Robots, Micro-Airspaces, and the Future of “Public Space” on Saturday, April 5th at 3:15PM on the Panel on Domestic Drones with moderator F. Daniel Siciliano at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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David K. Breyer, Donna A. Dulo, Gale A. Townsley, and Stephen S. Wu on “Risk, Product Liability Trends, Triggers, and Insurance in Commercial Aerial Robots”

Risk, Product Liability Trends, Triggers, and Insurance in Commercial Aerial Robots
David K. Breyer, Donna A. Dulo, Gale A. Townsley, and Stephen S. Wu

Donna A. Dulo

Donna A. Dulo

The commercialization of autonomous aerial robots, “drones” will become pervasive and ubiquitous across the national airspace over the coming years resulting in an increasing risk potential for drone operators and manufacturers. The risk and liability to these entities is entirely unknown due to the lack of historical data on which to determine liability triggers and trends to facilitate the development of accurate insurance underwriting trends. Product liability questions as well remain unanswered with causes of action such as strict product liability,negligence, breach of warranty, and the violation of the law against unfair and deceptive trade practices looming in the near future against operators and manufacturers.

Stephen S. Wu

Stephen S. Wu

This paper presents these issues in light of available risk and accident data, primarily centered on historical military accident data with current accidents and mishaps that have occurred in the national airspace. It will address these issues in the context of manned and unmanned systems with the unique insurance issues and product liability issues that will face commercial owners, operators and manufacturers of drones that seek to limit their risks of liability and damage exposure through the purchase of insurance with both domestic and Lloyd’s of London based markets being discussed.

Donna A. Dulo, Gale A. Townsley, and Stephen S. Wu will be speaking on the Panel on Domestic Drones on Saturday, April 5th at 3:15 PM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center with moderator F. Daniel Siciliano in Coral Gables, Florida.

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Gregory Conti, Woodrow Hartzog, John C. Nelson, and Lisa A. Shay on “A Conservation Theory of Governance for Automated Law Enforcement”

A Conservation Theory of Governance for Automated Law Enforcement
Gregory Conti, Woodrow Hartzog, John C. Nelson, and Lisa A. Shay

Lisa A. Shay

Lisa A. Shay

Enforcement of the law has thus far largely been a manual process, one moderated by the discretion of human judgement and finite human resources, which were focused on priority offenses. Increasingly, however, the portions of, and in some cases the entire, law enforcement process from surveillance to punishment can be automated, removing inefficiencies that have also served as natural safeguards against abuse. The ubiquity of networked sensor devices, increases in processing power at lower cost, demands for revenue, and desires to increase public safety and security are leading to an era of productized automated law enforcement systems.

Woodrow Hartzog

Woodrow Hartzog

Today, we see such systems increasingly manifest in well-defined specialty cases, such as red light cameras and tax irregularity detection software.

However, the future portends an ever-increasing range of crimes that can be enforced through automated law enforcement systems. These advances bring opportunities for both good and harm. The legal, law enforcement, and policy making communities, as well as the general public, must carefully consider potential advantages, weigh the social cost and other risks, and challenge unsubstantiated claims of benefits.

Gregory Conti

Gregory Conti

To assist in these efforts, this paper provides end-to-end analysis of automatic law enforcement systems. It examines the key components and their amenability to automation, and how changes to the current state of the art might alter how laws and statutes could be enforced.

John C. Nelson

John C. Nelson

Our results indicate that automated law enforcement systems will gain increasing power and effectiveness but if left unchecked could cause significant social harm despite, ironically, attempting to improve public welfare.

Lisa A. Shay, Woodrow Hartzog, and Gregory Conti will be speaking on Saturday, April 5th at 1:45 PM with discussant Mary Anne Franks at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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Cameron R. Cloar and Donna A. Dulo on “A Legal Framework for the Safe and Resilient Operation of Autonomous Aerial Robots”

Considerations of a Legal Framework for the Safe and Resilient Operation of Autonomous Aerial Robots
Cameron R. Cloar and Donna A. Dulo

Cameron R. Cloar

Cameron R. Cloar


Autonomous aerial robots, also known as drones, will be a major segment of the National Airspace System in the near future. The extent of innovation of aerial robotic systems is seemingly limitless. Yet, within this futuristic vision emerges an essential issue that cannot be ignored: safety. Many aerial systems will operate under mostly human control; however, some segments of operation will undoubtedly be done autonomously. Although the number of these systems under design and manufacture for the market is quickly increasing, a unified set of legal rules is notably absent to ensure autonomous operations are performed safely and with a high degree of resilience. These legal rules must account for many factors such as the underlying software, algorithms and mathematics that drive the robotic systems, the interface between the robotic systems and potential human operators, if any, the interface between the robotic system and the collision avoidance system, as well as all inherent onboard authority systems.

Donna A. Dulo

Donna A. Dulo

This paper develops a legal framework which will present a unified foundation so that legal rules can be developed which will serve as the basis for the development and operation of autonomous aerial robots. The legal framework will ensure that designers and manufacturers have the freedom of invention and innovation while having a defined set of rules with which to develop their aerial robotic systems to ensure safe, resilient autonomous and semi-autonomous operations in the national airspace. While being initially developed for autonomous aerial robots, the legal framework will be readily adaptable to unmanned underwater robots, self-driving land vehicles, and any type of robotic vehicle that has varying degrees of autonomous capabilities. It will also call upon the regulatory framework for aircraft under the Federal Aviation Regulations, with a particular emphasis on the new consensus-driven standards that are envisioned will reshape the design and certification of small aircraft. The legal framework help will ensure that unmanned aerial robots become the safe and resilient transformative innovations that they are destined to be.

Donna A. Dulo will be on the Panel on Domestic Drones with moderator F. Daniel Siciliano on Saturday. April 5th at 3:15 PM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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A. Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo on “Self-Defense Against Robots”

Self-Defense Against Robots
A. Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo

A. Michael Froomkin

A. Michael Froomkin

Deployment of robots in the air, the home, the office, and the street inevitably means their interactions with both property and living things will become more common and more complex. This paper examines when, under U.S. law, humans may use force against robots to protect themselves, their property, and their privacy. In the real world where Asimov’s Laws of Robotics do not exist, robots can pose—or can appear to pose—a threat to life, property, and privacy. May a landowner legally shoot down a trespassing drone? Can she hold a trespassing autonomous car as security against damage done or further torts? Is the fear that a drone may be operated by a paparazzo or a peeping Tom sufficient grounds to disable or interfere with it? How hard may you shove if the office robot rolls over your foot? This paper addresses all those issues and one more: what rules and standards we could put into place to make the resolution of those questions fairer to all concerned.

The default common-law legal rules governing each of these perceived threats are somewhat different, although reasonableness always plays an important role in defining legal rights and options. In certain cases—drone overflights, autonomous cars—national, state, and even local regulation may trump the common law. Because it is in most cases obvious that humans can use force to protect themselves against actual physical attack, the paper concentrates on the more interesting cases of (1) robot (and especially drone) trespass, (2) robot (and especially drone) spying, and (3) responses to perceived threats by robots—perceptions which may not always be justified, but which sometimes may nonetheless be considered reasonable in law.

Zak Colangelo

Zak Colangelo

We argue that the scope of permissible self-help in defending one’s privacy should be quite broad.  We also identify seven problems in current law relating to human-robot interaction, all of which involve some kind of uncertainty — usually about what a robot can or will do — and suggest ways of solving or at least ameliorating them, either by making robots less potentially dangerous (banning the arming of robots) or by requiring robots to give clearer notice of their capabilities.

We conclude by looking at what the law on human self-defense against robots might tell us about a robot’s right to not be harmed by a human.

A. Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo will be on the Panel on Domestic Drones with moderator F. Daniel Siciliano on Saturday, April 5th at 3:15 PM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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Ryan Calo on “Robotics and the New Cyberlaw”

Robotics and the New Cyberlaw
Ryan Calo

Ryan Calo

Ryan Calo

The ascendance of the Internet wrought great changes to society and launched a movement among legal academics known as cyberlaw.  The themes of this movement reflect the essential qualities of the Internet—connectivity, community, and control.  Even as the law adapts, technology has not stood still.  The same government and hobbyists that developed the Internet, and the handful of private companies that have come to characterize it, have begun a massive shift toward robotics and artificial intelligence.  Lawmakers pass laws on drones and driverless cars.  Robotics, meanwhile, has a different set of essential qualities—embodiment, emergence, and social meaning.  The coming years will be marked by a new and distinct struggle, one in which academics and policymakers strive to develop a theoretical and doctrinal infrastructure capable of integrating this exciting new technology.

Ryan Calo will present “Robotics and the New Cyberlaw” with discussant David Post on Saturday, April 5th at 11:30 AM at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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Ian Kerr and Carissima Mathen on “Chief Justice John Roberts is a Robot”

Chief Justice John Roberts is a Robot
Ian Kerr and Carissima Mathen

The title of this article is not pejorative. It is suggestive. It asks readers to imagine the following counterfactual.

Ian Kerr

Ian Kerr

Around the globe, people awaken to some very strange news. In different languages, the same headline thunders: “Chief Justice John Roberts is a Robot.”  Badly injured during an ambush and attempted kidnapping while attending a conference at the House of Lords, Roberts’ captors boldly delivered-him-up to the Royal London Hospital and sped off.  In urgent and unusual circumstances—and in breach of US and international protocols—a team of emergency surgeons cut him open to discover that his biology ran only skin deep.

After weeks of follow-up investigations and interviews, it is learned that “John Roberts” did indeed graduate from Harvard Law School in 1979 and that “his” legal career unfolded exactly as documented in public life. However, John Roberts, Robot (JR-R) was in fact a highly advanced prototype of the US Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation, developed during the period chronologically corresponding with what would have been “his” high school and college years. After several (earlier) A-series JRs had secretly annihilated the Turing test, US Robots decided to consolidate its successful AI with emerging robotic technologies in the new R-series machines. As part of its research and development, the company initiated a singular, long-term experiment with a lifelike, autonomous social robot that was virtually indistinguishable from human beings.

Carissima Mathen

Carissima Mathen

Following a successful (though embellished) application to Harvard Law, US Robots unleashed JR-R on the world. Like Aristotle’s unmoved prime mover, JR-R was left to its own devices. US Robots made no interference with the robot’s moral, legal or social development. Coded, like the best law students, JR-R was programmed to learn how to learn, with no pre-programmed politics or agenda—other than the blind ambitions of a typical 1L. The rest, as they say, is history.

In its role as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, JR-R wrote and participated in a number of landmark decisions. In this article we investigate the legitimacy of JR-R’s tenure on the Court. Through this philosophical thought experiment, we consider whether it matters that a machine generated legal reasons for judgment.

With this counterfactual, we set the stage for future philosophical discussions about expert systems, artificial intelligence and the coming era of mechanical jurisprudence—an era where the production of at least some legal knowledge and decision-making is delegated to machines and algorithms, not people.

Ian Kerr and Carissima Mathen will present Chief Justice John Roberts is a Robot on Saturday, April 5th at 8:30 AM with discussant Jack Balkin at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

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