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.
I'm guest blogging over at Concurring Opinions this month. My first post explored what the domestic use of drones would mean for privacy law. I also did a two-part post on "DRM for Privacy." Here is the first post. And the second. Excerpt below. Thoughts welcome.
Online privacy has been getting quite a bit of attention of late. But the problem seems as intractable as ever. In a pair of posts, I will explore one aspect of the online privacy debate and, drawing from a controversial corner of copyright law, suggest a modest fix. This first post discusses the problem of consumer tracking and the lack of any good solutions. You may want to skip this post if you are familiar with the online privacy ecosystem (and uninterested in correcting my oversimplifications and mistakes). The next post discusses how an often criticized provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—the anti-circumvention clause—might hold lessons for consumer privacy. This provision prohibits tampering with so-called digital rights management. The law has its problems as a mechanism to enforce copyright. As applied to consumers’ efforts to protect their privacy, however, a few of Section 1201’s bugs metamorphose into features.
I have been blogging about Nevada's efforts to pave the way toward driverless vehicles in that state. Nevada recently become the first state to pass a law tasking the Department of Motorvehicles with developing a set of standards to license autonomous driving on the state's highways. In other words, Nevada is hoping for an early mover advantage in cornering this emerging technology. Reports are now surfacing that Oklahoma has taken steps to reserve an air corridor for the domestic use of autonomous drones. If approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, this would free up an 80 mile stretch for the military, hobbyists, and others to operate drones in U.S. airspace. One estimate places the number of domestic drones at 15,000 by 2018.
According to the Nevada Legislature's website, AB 511 "revis[ing] certain provisions governing transportation" passed the Assembly (36-6) and the Senate (20-1) and was signed into law by the governor this week. Although I am aware of no law that prohibits driverless cars, this appears to be the first law officially to sanction the technology. Specifically, the law provides that the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles "shall adopt regulations authorizing the operation of autonomous vehicles on highways within the State of Nevada." The law charges the Nevada DMV with setting safety and performance standards and requires it to designate areas where driverless cars may be tested. (Note that this could take some serious time: Japan, for instance, has been promising standards for personal robots for years and has yet to release them.)
I agree with most everything economist Tyler Cowen said in his insightful New York Times op ed about autonomous vehicles. This technology holds tremendous promise in enhancing passenger safety, efficiency, and mobility. (See also Sebastian Thrun’s March 31 TED talk). I also agree that law and policy may act, as Cowen suggests, to impede innovation and adoption of driverless cars. But Cowen’s assertion that the driverless car “is illegal in all 50 states,” which he reasserts and defends in a recent blog post, represents a serious overstatement. And, in a way, an ironic one: the public assertion that driverless cars are illegal could be almost as chilling to potential innovators and consumers as passing laws against this technology.
NO: It Is the Way to Kill Innovation
By Ryan Calo
The year is 1910. Orville and Wilbur Wright are testing their plane and happen to fly hundreds of feet over a stretch of land you own. Could you sue them?
Technically, you could. In 1910, your property rights extended ad coelum et ad inferos—up to heaven and down to hell. Anyone who flew over your property without permission was trespassing.
"“One is of course the legal status, one is regulating these technologies,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law, asked about the questions hovering around the technology, “another is promoting, another is preparing for the broader changes.”"
"“The main thing is people talk about maintaining meaningful human control over weapons,” said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. “There’s a lot of questions that remain.”"
"There are still considerable legal, technological and public perception problems to overcome, said Ryan Calo, a robotics law expert from the University of Washington School of Law.
The drone industry is trying to fight heavy local restrictions, fearing state regulations that vary greatly.
"It's amazing that people are being required to register a toy," Calo said. "All toys are potentially dangerous. You could hit someone in the head with a chessboard.""
"Ryan Calo, an assistant professor of law at the University of Washington who specializes in robotics law and policy, said fewer regulations could benefit some specific drone industries, such as delivery. That potential enterprise has been hindered by regulations that prevent drones from carrying packages unless the total weight of the drone plus the load is less than 55 pounds, as well as limitations on flying beyond visual line of sight."
"Otto’s argument might not hold up if challenged, says Ryan Calo, a law professor who teaches a class on robotics law and policy at the University of Washington: “One question is whether or not monitoring counts if you’re not in the driver’s seat. Often customs wind up informing the law and the custom here is that other testers, like Google and Tesla, actually have a person sitting in front of the steering wheel.”
"Such is the hype. But for every tech company with its head in the clouds, there are problems to bring them back down to earth. “There are big technical challenges,” says Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. “There’s a bunch of PhD theses that need to be completed before you can build a drone to autonomously police an area, find intruders, and use facial recognition to know who is meant to be there. Plus, having these things stay aloft beyond a few minutes is non-trivial.”"
CIS Affiliate Scholars Peter Asaro, Ryan Calo and Woodrow Hartzog will all be participating in this two-day conference.
Registration is open for We Robot 2015 and we have a great program planned:
Friday, April 10
Registration and Breakfast
Welcome Remarks: Dean Kellye Testy, University of Washington School of Law
Introductory Remarks: Ryan Calo, Program Committee Chair
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 25, 12:00 p.m.
Location: Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA
A Brave New Era? Or, Back to the Future? Are we in 1934? 1993? Or, 2015? The FCC’s order on the open internet – What did the FCC really do and what will it mean for internet service providers, online music and video companies, e-commerce companies, transit providers and consumers?
Keynote Lecture, Reilly 30th Anniversary Conference
Ryan Calo, UW School of Law
The Past, Present, and Future of Robotic Regulation
Robots have been with us for some time, largely hidden away from daily life. Today robots are leaving the factory and the battlefield and entering our hospitals, hotels, highways, and skies. This talk addresses how the law has addressed robots in the past, how the law is addressing drones, driverless cars, and other robots today, and how law and legal institutions might address this transformative technology going forward.
Roundtable with experts Professor Ronald C. Arkin, Professor Ryan Calo, Dr. Kate Darling, Professor Illah Nourbakhsh, and Professor Noel Sharkey
Moderated by Professor Jennifer Urban
Friday, July 11, 3:30 pm
Boalt Hall Goldberg Room
Robots are quickly moving out of controlled environments into public spaces and homes, and researchers are developing artificial intelligence systems that will allow robots to make decisions autonomously. How should society plan for this transition?
"What will Amazon’s drone highway in the sky look like?
Probably not a drone highway. Amazon unveiled a proposal where low-level air space would be carved out for drones: 200 to 400 feet would be reserved for high-speed transit drones. Below, there would be space for low -speed local drone traffic, and above would be a no-fly buffer zone to keep drones out of manned-vehicle air space, aka flight paths.
Robots have been used in factories around the world for decades, often carrying out dangerous or highly repetitive operations. However the city of Dongguan, China, has become home to the first fully automated factory - where the workforce is made of up entirely of robots. Changying Precision Technology will only employ a small number of human staff who will monitor operations of the machinery, but all processes are completed by robotic equipment.
Is this a sign of things to come? Newsday spoke to Ryan Calo, a professor with the University of Washington Tech Policy Lab.
CIS Affiliate Scholar Ryan Calo on Good Morning America segment "Popularity of Drones Raises Privacy Concerns," many have reported drones with cameras invading their privacy.
Ryan Calo, Assistant Law Professor at the University of Washington and an affiliate scholar at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, talks about testing Google’s driverless cars.
Listen to the full show at Marketplace Tech.