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.
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.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced its proposal this morning for what rules should govern small unmanned aerial systems, meaning drones 55 pounds or lighter. We do not know how long it will take for the rules to go into effect. When they do, the new rules will permit vastly more drone use in the United States, bringing us closer into line with other countries where drones can be commercially operated today.
We are not ready for driverless cars because our public officials lack the expertise to evaluate the safety of this new class of automobiles.
It is always fun, and sometimes worrying, to see imagination come to life. I was on a panel last year at UC Berkeley around robotics and law. We talked about some of the conundrums robots and artificial intelligence might pose for law and policy–the subject of my forthcoming work Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw. One hypothetical involved a shopping “bot” that randomly purchases items on the Internet.
""Every developed country in the world has a general privacy law — except us," said Neil Richards, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. "What we have instead is a mishmash of state laws based on what the market will bear."
"Not necessarily, University of Washington Professor of Law Ryan Calo explained.
"It is a challenge," he told Ross. "Nobody should reasonably expect driverless cars to be free from accidents. The hope is that given that so many of the traffic fatalities in America are due in large part to human error; driverless cars will cut down on accidents."
That isn't a bad trade off, Ross said. Thirty-thousands fender-benders would be better than 30,000 fatalities every year, he added.
"Other robotics experts are not so sure. Ryan Calo is a law professor at the University of Washington, and teaches a class on Robotic Law and Policy. “The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved robotic surgery relatively quickly because it made an analogy between robotic surgery and laparoscopic surgery,” he says. Makers of robotic surgical systems claimed that their devices were essentially an extension of traditional laparoscopic instruments.
"Speaking on a panel on the topic hosted by the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C., Ryan Calo, assistant professor of the University of Washington School of Law, said there was “an opportunity” to strengthen the security of the data governments manage.
“I think that governments of all kinds, local and federal, can improve the overall ecosystem on privacy and security,” he said during the panel.
"Ryan Calo, who led the team, called the work difficult but crucial. "We had to come up with a process to blend the technical, legal, design and other elements into a single policy document," he said. "I hope the finished document proves useful to policymakers of all kinds.""
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?
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?
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?"
"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.