Ryan Calo is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law and a former research director at CIS. A nationally recognized expert in law and emerging technology, Ryan's work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Wired Magazine, and other news outlets. Ryan serves on several advisory committees, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and the Future of Privacy Forum. He co-chairs the American Bar Association Committee on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence and serves on the program committee of National Robotics Week.
Please visit the Center for Internet and Society's new wiki (cyberlaw.stanford.edu/wiki) and contribute to our privacy enhancing technology (PET) database.
Stanford Law School student Seth Gilmore got us started on a PET wiki. As the name suggests, PETs are technologies or techniques that assist users in protecting their information from abuse. They include software allowing for anonymous surfing, plug-ins that reveal who is tracking you online, and improvements in browser security. Microsoft and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada cosponsor an award for PETs, and there is a call for papers (due March 2, 2009) for an upcoming PET conference in Seattle.
David Cancel just created a wonderful privacy enhancing technology for Firefox---up there with Ad Blocker Plus in my view. In a simple and straightforward way, Ghostery reveals who is tracking your views of a page on the Internet according to a common but under-examined method: web bugs.
As David explains, "[w]eb bugs are used to track your behavior on the web in order to help the sites you visit to understand their own audiences and to allow advertisers to target ads at you." To expand a little, web bugs are tiny (generally one-pixel) pictures on a web page that tell a host or third-party when and by whom they are being loaded, which in turn reveals that the page itself has been loaded. David's elegant plug-in "scans the web pages you visit to find web bugs" and displays their owners in the upper right hand corner of the page. Ghostery is easy to install, use, and shut off.
Social networks have gotten a lot of play in recent years. What about social devices? I've been thinking about whether/how the nature of computer interfaces is changing—specifically, becoming less passive and more “social.”
My conversations with academics in Stanford's Department of Communications, and the research they've guided me toward, leads me to believe that we are once again at the edge of a shift in the way we communicate. For a variety or reasons, PCs and other computers in cars, mobile devices, etc., are making increased use of voice-driven, natural language interfaces or avatars, moving computing away from the traditional mode of passive information processing toward a more social, "person to person" interaction.
Some quick examples. Google's VP of Search gave a recent interview at Le Web during which she said that Google was exploring a more conversational interface that would allow users to actually ask Google questions out loud as though conversing with a person. Although it has met with (comic) resistance in the past, a trail of Microsoft patents going back ten years shows how serious the company is about developing a social interface, complete with voice, expressions, and gestures. As much as twenty-five percent of Microsoft's research efforts reportedly involve artificial intelligence. Even the U.S. government has gotten into this game: the U.S. Army’s virtual recruiter, SGT Star, responds to questions out loud, changes moods, makes jokes, etc. According to developer statistics, SGT Star has responded to over two million questions since his debut in 2006.
Electronic books are a little like flying cars; always right about to catch on. Today the New York Times asks “Could book lovers finally be willing to switch from pages to pixels?” In an interesting piece in Technology, Brad Stone and Motoko Rich interview publishers in an attempt to size this market, concluding that the era of e-books may (finally) have arrived.
Lots could be said on this topic--much praised and much lamented. But we've been discussing a particular angle here at CIS: whether this page to pixel migration might have serious repercussions for reader privacy.
A recent Computerworld blog post shows how tone deaf we can be about the implications of new technology. A group of car dealers in Oregon apparently attached GPS devices to cars sold to customers with poor credit so as to be able to track them down more easily in the event of repossession.
The term “hacking” has come to signify breaking into a computer system. A number of local, national, and international laws seek to hold hackers accountable for breaking into computer systems to steal information or disrupt their operation. Other laws and standards incentivize private firms to use best practices in securing computers against attack.
"But it may be more difficult for tech firms to justify scanning conversations in other situations, said Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor who writes about tech.
“Once you open the door, you might wonder what other kinds of things we would be looking for,” Calo said."
""Would it be possible for a person unknowingly to authorize a law enforcement agency or a criminal to access Amazon Key?" Elizabeth Joh, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, e-mailed Ars. "If a criminal gains access and some harm occurs, who is responsible? And what criminal law would apply? Also, does Amazon have in its disclaimers that law enforcement might ask for access through Amazon Key? Does Amazon plan on being transparent about this?""
"Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in legal issues related to technology, said Amazon’s new service relies on the same kind of trust homeowners commonly extend to services to which they hand over their keys. But he said those agreements often involve in-person interactions, which won’t happen when homeowners allow Amazon to unlock its doors.
“It raises questions about how do you specify and police expectations when the relationship is one mediated almost entirely by technology?” Mr. Calo said."
"“Ikea’s reasons for purchasing TaskRabbit may go well beyond the gains of having that company in-house for purposes of delivery and assembly,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, who has written about the sharing economy.
“You never know what these new marriages with tech companies are going to yield,” he added."
"“Congress has subpoena power, of course,” says Al Gidari, the director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, who previously represented several big tech companies in national security cases.
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing on Wednesday, November 16, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. entitled “Exploring Augmented Reality.” The hearing will examine the emergence, benefits, and implications of augmented reality technologies. Unlike virtual reality that creates a wholly simulated reality, augmented reality attempts to superimpose images and visual data on the physical world in an intuitive way.
• Mr. Brian Blau, Research Vice President, Gartner
The University of Washington School of Law is delighted to announce a public workshop on the law and policy of artificial intelligence, co-hosted by the White House and UW’s Tech Policy Lab. The event places leading artificial intelligence experts from academia and industry in conversation with government officials interested in developing a wise and effective policy framework for this increasingly important technology. The event is free and open to the public but requires registration. -
Facebook is still reeling from the revelation that a British firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly used millions of its users’ data. #DeleteFacebook is trending and those in the tech world are closely watching how users react to the news.
Can the tech giant turn a new leaf? What data are we willing to give up for the convenience of platforms? And would paying for services like Facebook solve the problem?
Nobody likes to wait in line. So today, Amazon removed that unpleasantness from the neighborhood grocery store. At Amazon Go, you walk in, pick up your groceries and walk out.
There are no checkout lines or scanners and almost no employees, just sensors and cameras. But what is that convenience going to cost you? We talk with Geekwire’s Todd Bishop and University of Washington law professor and privacy expert Ryan Calo.
Listen to the full interview at KUOW 94.9
The University of Washington School of Law is delighted to announce a public workshop on the law and policy of artificial intelligence, co-hosted by the White House and UW’s Tech Policy Lab. The event places leading artificial intelligence experts from academia and industry in conversation with government officials interested in developing a wise and effective policy framework for this increasingly important technology.
Simon Jack reports from Seattle on robots at work. From the Boeing factory where robots make planes to a clothes shop where a robot helps him buy a new pair of jeans. Plus Ryan Calo, professor of law at the University of Washington, grapples with the question of who to blame when robots go wrong, and whether there is such a thing as robot rights.