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 don’t know that generativity is a theory, strictly speaking. It’s more of a quality. (Specifically, five qualities.) The attendant theory, as I read it, is that technology exhibits these particular, highly desirable qualities as a function of specific incentives. These incentives are themselves susceptible to various forces—including, it turns out, consumer demand and citizen fear.
The law is in a position to influence this dynamic. Thus, for instance, Comcast might have a business incentive to slow down peer-to-peer traffic and only refrain due to FCC policy. Or, as Barbara van Schewick demonstrates inter alia in Internet Architecture and Innovation, a potential investor may lack the incentive to fund a start up if there is a risk that the product will be blocked.
Similarly, online platforms like Facebook or Yahoo! might not facilitate communication to the same degree in the absence of Section 230 immunity for fear that they will be held responsible for the thousand flowers they let bloom. I agree with Eric Goldman’s recent essay in this regard: it is no coincidence that the big Internet players generally hail from these United States. Read more » about Will Robots Be 'Generative'?
Prohibition wasn’t working. President Hoover assembled the Wickersham Commission to investigate why. The Commission concluded that despite an historic enforcement effort—including the police abuses that made the Wickersham Commission famous—the government could not stop everyone from drinking. Many people, especially in certain city neighborhoods, simply would not comply. The Commission did not recommend repeal at this time, but by 1931 it was just around the corner.
Five years later an American doctor working in a chemical plant made a startling discovery. Several workers began complaining that alcohol was making them sick, causing most to stop drinking it entirely—“involuntary abstainers,” as the doctor, E.E. Williams, later put it. It turns out they were in contact with a chemical called disulfiram used in the production of rubber. Disulfiram is well-tolerated and water-soluble. Today, it is marketed as the popular anti-alcoholism drug Antabuse.
Were disulfiram discovered just a few years earlier, would federal law enforcement have dumped it into key parts of the Chicago or Los Angeles water supply to stamp out drinking for good? Probably not. It simply would not have occurred to them. No one was regulating by architecture then. To dramatize this point: when New York City decided twenty years later to end a string of garbage can thefts by bolting the cans to the sidewalk, the decision made the front page of the New York Times. The headline read: “City Bolts Trash Baskets To Walks To End Long Wave Of Thefts.”
In an important but less discussed chapter in The Future of the Internet, Jonathan Zittrain explores our growing taste and capacity for “perfect enforcement."
Readers are likely familiar with the cyberlaw mantra that “code is law.” What’s striking is that since Lawrence Lessig published Code in 1999, relatively little has been written about the dangers of regulation by architecture, particularly outside of the context of intellectual property. Many legal scholars—Neil Katyal, Elizabeth Joh, Edward Cheng—have instead argued for more regulation by architecture on the basis that it is less discriminatory or more effective. Read more » about (Im)Perfect Enforcement
My new paper explores what is unique about privacy harm. How does privacy harm differ from other injury? And what do we gain by defining its boundaries and core properties? You can download the paper here; abstract after the jump. Your thoughts warmly welcome. Read more » about The Boundaries of Privacy Harm
ACM Computers Freedom Privacy is in its 20th year. This year was exciting to me in that robots entered the mix. My panel on the topic featured forecaster and essayist Paul Saffo, EFF's Brad Templeton, philosopher Patrick Lin, and was moderated by Wired's Gary Wolf. You can find a video recording of our panel here. I also spoke to the Dr. Katherine Albrecht Radio Show, which was broadcasting live from the conference. Click here to listen.
UPDATE: Facebook explains the security procedure here. Apparently they only use photos if you have not set up another verification means. Also, I have confirmation that the photo identification is not being done for a secondary purpose.
I recently tried to sign on to Facebook from a coffee shop. I was told that I had to pass a security screening because of the "strange location." Fair enough. The actual test, however, was surprising. It was comprised of a multiple choice exam where I had to identify who was in a given picture.
A couple of things. First, some of the pictures were embarrassing. I doubt the person who uploaded them thought they would be used to screen for improper access. Think about it. Facebook is showing random private photos to people because it suspects they may not be the account holder. The photos must be private because they form the basis of a security screening. Read more » about Facebook's Security Screening
I am proud to say that I helped found the Robot Block Party in Silicon Valley. Now in its fifth year, the event brings together industry, academia, and the hobbyist community to demo robots in celebration of National Robotics Week. We held the first one in Paul Brest Hall at Stanford Law School. The second, third, and fourth Robot Block Parties took place nearby at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (where Stanford University develops driverless cars). Each event drew at least a thousand visitors. Read more » about Even (Some) Law Firms Think Robots Are The Next Big Thing
"“Schools are competing feverishly for good students. An applicant who, a few years ago, would have been wait-listed at a top twenty school, may now find herself with a scholarship,” Mr. Calo wrote in a recent article for Forbes." Read more » about To Apply or Not to Apply? That’s a Tough Question
"Ryan Calo focuses on the role of technological design in contract formation and enforcement which is not surprising given his extensive expertise and research in this area regarding effective notice. The way that technological design of contracts affects parties’ behavior is underappreciated in the literature on contracts of adhesion. Calo observes that the potential for mischief through the use of standard terms is even worse than the examples I give in my book (this is a great relief since I am often accused of exaggerating the dangers of wrap contracts)." Read more » about Wrap Contract Symposium: Response to Calo and Cherry
My colleague Yoshi told me an interesting story the other day. He looked down at his smart phone to find a large spider running across it. Understandably, my colleague dropped the phone in surprise. The screen on the phone cracked when it hit the floor. Read more » about When Apps Attack
Is this country ready for the drone revolution? Baby steps, says the Federal Aviation Administration, which on Thursday unveiled its new roadmap for releasing drones into the U.S. airspace. Among the recommendations under consideration: Drone pilots will get certification, drone designs must meet minimum standards, and a pilot flying the machine will be responsible for the craft during flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration released what it called a road map Thursday that sets the stage for law enforcement agencies, businesses, universities and hobbyists to fly remotely piloted aircraft, better known as drones, inside the United States by 2015. Read more » about FAA issues plan for domestic drone use
8:30 – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast and Registration
9:00 – 9:15 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks Read more » about Taking Responsibility for One’s Own Data Privacy and Security–Is it Possible, and How?
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? Read more » about Open Data: Addressing Privacy, Security, and Civil Rights Challenges
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
9:00 am Read more » about We Robot 2015
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? Read more » about Pacific Northwest Chapter Luncheon
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. Read more » about The Past, Present, and Future of Robotic Regulation
The Federal Aviation Administration has released long-awaited proposed rules to regulate commercial drone use. The rules would allow anyone over 17 to take a test to get permission to fly a commercial drone without needing a pilot's license, a key concern of the drone industry.
Commercial drones would have to fly below 500 feet, only during daylight, and always be visible to their operators. Read more » about Proposed drone rules allow limited access for some businesses
The Federal Aviation Administration has unveiled a long-awaited proposal for rules governing the use of small drones. If approved, the rules could expand the use of drones throughout the country. Read more » about FAA Proposal On Drones Highlights Safety Over Privacy Concerns
Listen to the full interview at Marketplace Tech.
"Calo recently signed an open letter that detailed his and others’ concerns over AI’s rapid progress. The letter was published by the Future of Life Institute, a research organization studying the potential risks posed by AI. The letter has since been endorsed by scientists, CEOs, researchers, students and professors connected to the tech world. Read more » about A responsible approach to artificial intelligence
Listen to the full interview with Ryan Calo at BBC The Inquiry.
Billions of dollars are pouring into the latest investor craze: artificial intelligence. But serious scientists like Stephen Hawking have warned that full AI could spell the end of the human race. How seriously should we take the warnings that ever-smarter computers could turn on us? Our expert witnesses explain the threat, the opportunities and how we might avoid being turned into paperclips. Read more » about Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?