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.
Over the last year, the FBI has had harsh words for Apple, accusing the tech giant of endangering human lives and aiding criminals by turning on encryption by default on the iPhone. When Google announced it would add the feature to Android, meaning that smartphone users would need to unlock their phones for police to be able to go through them, government officials and law enforcement representatives similarly freaked out.
Privacy law scholars tend to be skeptical of markets. Markets “unravel” privacy by penalizing consumers who prefer it, degrade privacy by treating it as just another commodity to be traded, and otherwise interfere with the values or processes that privacy exists to preserve.
In a fresh and recent whitepaper, Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes and law student Jodie Liu turn the standard privacy argument on its head: as they see it, many supposed threats to our privacy actually benefit it.
"According to University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo, the situation doesn’t give rise to any new legal issues, but is unsettling for a different reason: We are okay with cops using lethal force in a justified situation, but we expect them to do so in a familiar way—with firearms. The use of an improvised robot bomb is unsettling in the same way as if the cops had used a knife or dropped an anvil on the shooter.
"“It is essentially a jury-rigged version of a drone strike,” Ryan Calo, a University of Washington School of Law professor specializing in cyber and robotic law, told me. “If they would have been justified in throwing a grenade, then they’re likely justified in doing this, which was quite frankly a creative thing.”
"“No court would find a legal problem here,” said Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington law school. “When someone is an ongoing lethal danger, there isn’t an obligation on the part of officers to put themselves in harm’s way.”"
"Today we learned the Dallas police used a bomb disposal robot to deliver and detonate an explosion, killing the suspect in last night's shooting. It was surprising, and shocking, and left me with a lot of questions. But, really, there's only one question: is this ethical?
"The way the robot was used in the Dallas case is likely legally no different from sending an officer in to shoot a hostile suspect, according to University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo.
Still, the Dallas Police Department's decision to use the unit in this way could have a major effect on how the public views the increasing integration of robots into daily life, he said.
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. -
CIS Affilate Scholar Ryan Calo wil be part of a panel titled "Understanding the Implications of Open Data".
How can open data promote trust in government without creating a transparent citizenry?
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.
There are a million ways people might use drones in the future, from deliveries and police work to journalism. But in this episode, we’re going to talk about consumer drones — something that you or I might use for ourselves. What does the world look like when everybody with a smart phone also has a drone?
"“We don’t need to get to this crazy world in which robots are trying to take over in order for there to be really difficult, interesting complex legal questions,” says Ryan Calo, professor of law at the University of Washington, “That’s happening right now.”
Here’s a sample:
“How do we make sure these drones are not recording things that they shouldn’t," Calo says, "and those things aren’t winding up .... on Amazon servers,or somehow getting out to the public or to law enforcement?"