September 11, 2019 - Georgetown Law Hosts Inaugural We Robot DC Salon

On Wednesday, the Institute hosted the first-ever We Robot DC Salon, a policy-focused evening event featuring leading papers from the We Robot conference, the premier conference focused on the interactions of humans and machines.

The evening drew together academics, policymakers, experts from industry and civil society to engage with leading interdisciplinary research on the cutting edge of robot design, development, and deployment. 

  • Stanford Professor Abby Everett Jacques discussed her paper, Why the Moral Machine is a Monster, addressing the challenges created by taking a limited view of ethics when conceptualizing and designing robotic systems. Georgetown’s Julie Cohen provided insight and led discussion. 

  • Cornell Professors Karen Levy and Solon Barocas presented their work, Reap What You Sow? Precision Agriculture & The Privacy of Farm Data, covering the system-wide influence of big data collection and use in farming communities. The conversation was led by Kristen Thomason from the University of Windsor. 

  • To finish the evening, Stephanie Ballard and We Robot organizer Ryan Calo presented their paper, Taking Futures Seriously: Forecasting as a Method in Robotics Law & Policy, examining how to anticipate potential futures when designing policy and law for robotic systems. Dr. Anne Washington of NYU led the conversation. 

The evening took the opportunity to honor Ian Kerr, a leading scholar in robotics law and one of the co-founders of We Robot, who passed away in August. The Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology at the University of Ottowa, Ian was one of the earliest and leading academics to explore the social and ethical implications surrounding the interactions of humans and machines. You can read more about him and his work in this wonderful tribute by WeRobot co-founded Michael Froomkin, and another remembrance by Ian’s colleague Michael Geist. The Tech Institute announced a donation to the Ian Kerr Memorial Fund to support student scholarships in his honor.

More information on the We Robot DC Salon is available here.

Information on the full conference, including registration details for the April 2020 conference in Ottawa, can be found here

Many thanks to Microsoft for their sponsorship to make this evening possible.