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WeRobot 2014 – Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find the papers?

Links to all of the papers discussed at the conference can be found by clicking on the paper titles on the We Robot 2014 Program page.

Should I read the papers?

Yes. They’re great. And we encourage you to read the papers before the conference because at We Robot presenters do not present their own papers. Instead the discussant summarizes and critiques the argument, followed by a brief response from the paper’s author(s). Then we open it up to the audience for discussion.

I don’t have time to read the papers. Is there a cheat sheet?

Not exactly. But you could look at the summaries of the papers we’ve been running on this blog. See Presentations – April 4 and Presentations – April 5 for the full list.

Will you be streaming the conference?

Yes, We Robot 2014 will be live streaming. In case of technical difficulties we will also have a backup live stream.

When does Registration close?

Registration closes Wednesday at 12 PM. If you do not register, we cannot promise you a seat. At present it seems there may be a few seats available for participants who do not preregister but we cannot guarantee availability. Plus, you won’t get a cool nametag.

What does it cost to register?

Registration is free.

How do I get to the Conference?

Here are the directions to We Robot 2014.

Where do I park?

There will be marked parking lots around the Newman Alumni Center where you will be free to park your car.

What is the dress code?

Casual. We want you to feel comfortable.

NewIconIs there a hashtag?

There is: #WeRobot

What are Birds of a Feather Sessions?

Birds of a Feather Sessions are Friday night dinners at local restaurants for attendees who are interested in grouping together based on specific areas of interest. We will have sign up sheets at the conference registration desk on Friday morning. The conference does not pay for these dinners, but we have selected moderately priced restaurants.

Who sponsors We Robot?

The Sponsors of We Robot 2014 are:

  • The University of Miami School of Law
  • Hollywood Media Corp.
  • Microsoft
  • University of Miami Ethics Programs
  • Yale Information Society Project
  • Google
  • Arsht Ethics Initiatives

If you see a sponsor at the event, please thank them!

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A Sort-Of Extension of the We Robot 2014 Paper Proposal Deadline

Several people have asked about extensions of the deadline for submitting abstracts, given that we extended our deadline in each of the last two years. The problem with an extension is that it pushes back the date to give people a reply as to whether the paper has been accepted, and last year some people complained about that delay.

So we’ve worked out an experiment for this year: the deadline for abstracts remains midnight tonight. But we’ll continue to accept paper proposals on a rolling, space-available, basis until we’ve made up the full program. In other words, if you want to maximize your chances of getting your paper accepted, get the abstract in today. But we won’t refuse your paper just because it’s late until we’ve filled our dance card. Of course, the later we get it, the more we’ll have filled up the program. The fewer slots available for it, the lower your chances…

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Papers are Coming In

We’ll count anything in by midnight US time tomorrow as in by Monday’s deadline.

It’s funny how many proposals come in at the last minute.

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Discussants Are Important at We Robot

Discussants play a special role at We Robot because we organize the presentation of scholarly papers in an unusual way.

For the single-paper presentations (as opposed to panels on a theme), we do not ask the authors to present their own papers. Instead, we select an expert, whether scholar or practitioner, and ask him or her to do the initial summary presentation, and also to offer an appreciation and critique of the paper. The author or authors then reply to the discussant’s comments. All that takes about 15 minutes. Then we open the floor to comments and questions. Papers are available to all attendees in advance of the conference, so discussions can get pretty lively.

If you know of someone who you’d like to see involved in We Robot, or you would like to be a discussant yourself, use the same portal we use for submission of abstracts of proposed presentations and works-in-progress.

Don’t forget that if you are submitting an abstract you can also volunteer to be a discussant just by checking a box on your submission form; in past years we have gotten far more paper proposals than we could accept, but some of the people whose papers we would have liked to take, but could not, did great work as discussants.

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Call for Papers – We Robot 2014: Risks & Opportunities – April 4 & 5 in Coral Gables, FL

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.

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A. Michael Froomkin – Program Committee Chair

Michael_Froomkin_1c-smA. Michael Froomkin, the Chair of the Program Committee is the Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, specializing in Internet Law and Administrative Law. He founded We Robot in 2012.

Prof. Froomkin is a founder-editor of the online law review Jotwell, The Journal of Things We Like (Lots). He is also a founder of ICANNWatch, and serves on the Editorial Board of Information, Communication & Society and of I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society. He is on the Advisory Boards of several organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Professor Froomkin writes primarily about privacy, Internet governance, electronic democracy, and cryptography.

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Ryan Calo – Program Committee

Calo-Ryan-133x200Ryan Calo is Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law. Professor Calo researches the intersection of law and emerging technology, with an emphasis on robotics and the Internet. His work on drones, driverless cars, privacy, and other topics has appeared in law reviews and major news outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Professor Calo has also testified before the full Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate. 

Professor Calo serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Future of Privacy Forum, and National Robotics Week. Professor Calo co-chairs the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence committee of the American Bar Association and is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Internet and Computer Law.

Professor Calo previously served as a director at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society (CIS) where he remains an Affiliate Scholar. He also worked as an associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Covington & Burling LLP and clerked for the Honorable R. Guy Cole on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Prior to law school at the University of Michigan, Professor Calo investigated allegations of police misconduct in New York City.

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Ian Kerr – Program Committee

ian ottawa u photo-2Ian Kerr holds the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law & Technology at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, with cross appointments in Medicine, Philosophy and Information Studies. He has advised various Canadian agencies on legal policy for online activities, and has served as a Canadian delegate to the United Nations¹ Special Working Group on e-Commerce, a project of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. Dr. Kerr¹s research lies at the intersection of ethics, law and technology and is currently focused on two broad themes: (i) Privacy and Surveillance; and (ii) Human-Machine Mergers.

Building on his recent Oxford University Press book, Lessons from the Identity Trail, his ongoing privacy work focuses on the interplay between emerging public and private sector surveillance technologies, civil liberties and human rights. His recent research on robotics and implantable devices examines legal and ethical implications of emerging technologies in the military sector, health and beyond.

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F. Daniel Siciliano – Program Committee

dan_sicilianoF. Daniel 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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William Smart – Program Committee

wdsBill Smart is a roboticist who is interested in how robots and people can work together effectively and efficiently. A computer scientist by training, he is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. He holds a Ph.D. and Sc.M. in Computer Science from Brown University, an M.Sc. in Intelligent Robotics from the University of Edinburgh, and a B.Sc. (hons) in Computer Science from the University of Dundee. His research interests span the areas of human-robot interaction, machine learning, technology and the arts, and brain-computer interfaces.

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