#WeRobot Features Workshops Today

Looking behind the curtain: What robots can (and cannot) do and how that influences the types of policies that can (and cannot) be written

Bill Smart

Bill Smart and Cindy Grimm will lead this workshop session at 11:00am on Thursday, September 23rd at #werobot.

Cindy Grimm

Machine learning is <gasp> just a glorified spreadsheet. Robots do not (and will not) fail in the same way that people do. We’ll use a mix of demonstrations and your own experience with common apps to highlight those differences. Our intention is to help you build up a better mental model of what robots can do, and how they can fail. We’ll close with an open discussion on how law and policy language might be adapted to account for this difference (What is a “reasonable good-faith effort” for a deployed robotic system?)


if(goingToTurnEvil), {don’t();}: Creating Legal Rules for Robots

Evan Selinger

Evan Selinger and Woody Hartzog will lead this workshop session at 1:00pm on Thursday, September 23rd at #werobot.

Woody Harzog

A lawyer, a roboticist, and a sociologist (or other discipline) walk into a bar…to form multidisciplinary teams attempting to craft some hypothetical legislation. Drafting laws can be just as frustrating as getting your code to work. When you combine emergent issues in robotics with social dynamics and you’ve got quite a challenge.

This experiential session combines law, robotics, and group fun. We’ll be working our way through how the legal sausage is made and try our hand at crafting some legal rules to solve some not-so hypothetical problems.


Finding your Path, Your People, and Your Conference Program–Networking Break

Ryan Calo

Kristen Thomasen

Sue Glueck






Ryan Calo, Sue Glueck, and Kristen Thomasen will lead this workshop session at 2:00pm on Thursday, September 23rd at #werobot.

New this year:  the workshop will feature 3 simultaneous networking/mentoring sessions during one of the breaks:  (1) How to do interdisciplinary research in this space; (2) What do I want to be when I grow up; (3) Welcome to We Robot for newbies.  We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to connect!


Why Call Them Robots? 100 Years of R.U.R.

Robin Murphy

Robin Murphy, Joanne Pransky and Jeremy Brett will lead this workshop session at 3:00pm on Thursday, September 23rd at #werobot.

A roboticist, a science fiction librarian, and a robot psychiatrist walk into a … We Robot panel to present multidisciplinary perspectives on R.U.R., the 1921 Czech play that gave the world the word “robot” and the robot uprising meme. Robin Murphy, author of Robotics Through Science Fiction, Jeremy Brett, curator of one of the largest and most respected collections of science fiction in the world, and Joanne Pransky, the world’s first robotic psychiatrist who admittedly works more with industrialists than their equipment,  are excited about engaging the audience in a lively discussion about R.U.R.  The panel intends tackle questions such as: Why should we care about R.U.R. today? Is it a dated play that got lucky on creating memes or was it a hit like Hamilton which shaped popular opinion about policy? Is it relevant for today’s discussions on robots replacing workers, universal basic incomes, and responsible robotics innovation? The panel will be open for questions and discussion from the audience and likely to spawn a spirited chat session.

Joanna Pranksy

If you aren’t familiar with R.U.R., there’s a good synopsis by the wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.U.R.) and the play can be found at  Project Gutenberg at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/59112/59112-h/59112-h.htm. Other fun reading is at The Czech Play that gave us the Word Robot,  The MIT Press Reader, https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/origin-word-robot-rur/

YouTube is full of many adaptations as well.


I’ll Take Robot Geeks for $1000, Alex: An Afternoon of Robot Trivia

Jason Millar

Join us for an afternoon of testing your knowledge of all things robot-related. Trivia-master Jason Millar will close our pre-conference workshop with some fun and good-natured competition. The Trivia session will be held at 4:15pm on Thursday, September 23rd at #werobot. Winner gets bragging rights until the next We Robot.