The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
The work of the the Roman writer Lucretius was lost to the world for more than a thousand years. When his poem “De Rerum Natura” was rediscovered in the Renaissance, Lucretius’s ideas slowly started to percolate through Renaissance Europe, making it possible to imagine a world that was not shaped by everyday divine intervention, in which we could begin to study both the universe and the behavior of human beings in their own terms. Niccolo Machiavelli was among the thinkers profoundly shaped by Lucretius’s ideas.
Facebook’s privacy practices have always been controversial. It doesn’t charge its users–because its users are the product. The company sells information on its users, their social networks, services they like, and a multitude of other forms of information to advertisers and marketers.
Over the last few weeks, the European Union has been torn apart by bitter disagreement over a new crisis: the huge numbers of refugees and migrants who are turning up at Europe’s doorstep. Last month, nearly 50,000 refugees arrived in Greece alone. Migrants wanting to get to the United Kingdom have formed an encampment around the port town of Calais, leading to scare-mongering statements by British politicians and alarmist headlines in tabloid newspapers.
In February, a South Korean woman was sleeping on the floor when her robot vacuum ate her hair, forcing her to call for emergency help. It may not be the dystopian future that Stephen Hawking warned us about – where intelligent devices “spell the end of the human race” – but it does highlight one of the unexpected dangers of inviting robots into our home.
Last week the Future of Life Institute released a letter signed by some 1,500 artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and technology researchers. Among them were celebrities of science and the technology industry—Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak—along with public intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky and Daniel Dennett. The letter called for an international ban on offensive autonomous weapons, which could target and fire weapons without meaningful human control.
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.