Spring 2015 Cyberlaw Clinic students Jack Xu and Cecillia Xie joined the Clinic’s Managing Director Chris Bavitz on a trip to Seattle last month to participate in the WeRobot 2015 robotics law and policy conference at University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. Accompanied by Chelsea Barabas of the MIT Center for Civic Media, the Clinic’s representatives attended the conference to present their working draft paper entitled, “Legal and Ethical Issues in the Use of Telepresence Robots: Best Practices and Toolkit.” J. Nathan Matias, also of the Center for Civic Media, contributed to the paper but was unable to attend the event.
Chris, Jack, Cecillia, and Chelsea joined discussant Laurel Riek of Notre Dame for a panel discussion about the paper and, more broadly, about privacy and related concerns that arise in connection with the use of telepresence robots. The draft paper and panel discussion helped to lay the groundwork for development a broader law and policy toolkit examining legal concerns that arise in connection with the use of telepresence robots. Professor Riek’s approach — grounding the project in the literature of AI and robotics research — helped to guide the discussion, which focused on the Clinic’s methodology and the scope and scale of its work.
Chelsea talked at length about the “People’s Bot” project, which was the genesis of the toolkit project. Cecillia, Jack, and Chris talked about the Clinic’s approach to legal issues and how documenting best practices can help to establish norms in fast-moving areas of law and technology. The discussion focused a lot on whether telepresence robotics presents unique problems and concerns or whether the legal issues raised by telepresence are the same as those raised by various other remote surveillance, recording, and other technologies.
Video of the panel discussion is now available:
Ryan Calo and his colleagues at UW School of Law put on a phenomenal conference, with outstanding presentations by Kate Darling, Anupam Chander, Karen Levy and Tim Hwang, and many others over the course of the two-day event.
Photos courtesy of Cecillia Xie and Jack Xu.