Ryan Calo's blog

Five Nonobvious Ways Seattle Is Wired

I recently moved from San Francisco to Seattle.  Among my concerns were (a) weather, (b) Mexican food, and (c) the technology sector.  There is a sea of clouds outside my office right now and the best Mexican food in town ("El Camion") parks behind a Safeway in Ballard.  But let me tell you: Seattle has not disappointed on technology.

Even setting aside the obvious (Microsoft, Amazon, Nintendo, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, etc.), this city is wired.  Here are five of my favorite examples: Read more about Five Nonobvious Ways Seattle Is Wired

Help Drones Invade SXSW

If you read this blog, chances are you're aware of SXSW, a unique festival exploring music, film, and emerging technology.  Recent years have seen one or two robotics panels at SXSW Interactive; I would be surprised if robotics did not feature prominently this March.  You can help ensure an appearance by one robot in particular: the drone.  There are at least three, drone-related panels currrently submitted for SXSW.  Please vote for one or more if inclined.  Thanks, and I hope to see you there. Read more about Help Drones Invade SXSW

Who Will Regulate Robots?

As robots leave the factory and battlefield and enter our homes, hospitals, and skies, it is not clear who will come to regulate them. But we can begin to spot some interesting patterns. Students of this transformative technology should keep their eye on both the claims and disavowals of authority over robots by state and federal agencies. Each hold potential dangers for our civil liberties and for the future of robotics. Read more about Who Will Regulate Robots?

To Catch With A Predator

The Los Angeles Times quotes me over the weekend in its front page story about the use of a Predator B drone to catch a civilian suspect in North Dakota. In my comments, I allude to how the domestic use of drones may paradoxically help drag privacy law into the twenty-first century. Stanford Law Review Online just published my short article on this topic. You can find the full text here. Thoughts welcome. Read more about To Catch With A Predator

The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Or: Why Weak AI Is Interesting Enough

Not many people in the legal academy study artificial intelligence or robotics. One fellow enthusiast, Kenneth Anderson at American University, posed a provocative question over at Volokh Conspiracy yesterday: will the Nobel Prize for literature ever go to a software engineer who writes a program that writes a novel?

What I like about Ken’s question is its basic plausibility. Software has already composed original music and helped invent a new type of toothbrush. It does the majority of stock trading. Software could one day write a book. A focus on the achievable is also what I find compelling about Larry Solum’s exploration of whether AI might serve as an executor of a trust or Ian Kerr’s discussion of the effects of software agents on commerce. Read more about The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Or: Why Weak AI Is Interesting Enough

Guest Blogging At Concurring Opinions

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. Read more about Guest Blogging At Concurring Opinions

Oklahoma To Nevada: You Can Have The Roads, We'll Take The Sky

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. Read more about Oklahoma To Nevada: You Can Have The Roads, We'll Take The Sky

Nevada Governor Signs Driverless Car Bill Into Law

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.) Read more about Nevada Governor Signs Driverless Car Bill Into Law

On The Legality Of Driverless Vehicles: A Response To Tyler Cowen

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. Read more about On The Legality Of Driverless Vehicles: A Response To Tyler Cowen


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