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Academics Are Getting Ready to Discuss the Legal Status of Robots

The Future Is Now!

The future is upon us, space travelers! The University of Miami School of Law has announced an upcoming conference to discuss the impending issue of the legal status of robots. Entitled “We Robot: Inaugural Conference on Legal and Policy Issues Relating to Robotics,” scholars of varying backgrounds and expertise will come together this upcoming April to discuss how we will be regulating robots in our everyday lives. But which of these scholars will volunteer to be the stereotypical prejudiced professor to claim that “those bucketheads have no rights — we made them“?

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In what could be considered a pre-emptive strike against the inevitable human war against robots, the University of Miami is setting up shop in Coral Gables, Florida to invite any interested “academics, practitioners, and industry in the form of scholarly papers or presentations of relevant projects.”

… [W]e hope to encourage conversations between the people designing, building, and deploying robots, and the people who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots will operate.

Robotics seems increasingly likely to become a transformative technology. This conference will build on existing scholarship exploring the role of robotics to examine how the increasing sophistication of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, and even to the battlefield disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking of various policy issues.

Among the topics the university would like to discuss are:

  • Effect of robotics on the workplace, e.g. small businesses, hospitals, and other contexts where robots and humans work side-by-side.
  • Issues of legal or moral responsibility, e.g. relating to autonomous robots or robots capable of exhibiting emergent behavior.
  • Privacy issues relating to data collection by robots, either built for that purpose or incidental to other tasks.
  • Intellectual property challenges relating to robotics as a nascent industry, to works or inventions created by robots, or otherwise peculiar to robotics.
  • Issues arising from automation of professional tasks such as unauthorized practice of law or medicine.

Guys, they are serious. And so are the robots. The purpose of this conference will be “to help set a research agenda relating to the deployment of robots in society,” so we are ready for those soulless masses of tin.

But seriously: the university has set a deadline of January 12 for proposals, and they will let you know if you’ve been accepted by February 6. However, we encourage the university to refer their most impressive crackpots to tips at themarysue dot com.

(The University of Miami School of Law via io9)

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