We Robot

Cutting-edge discussion at UM Law will probe complex issues raised by sophisticated robotics

Is the automation of law enforcement eroding individual privacy and due process rights? Who shoulders the criminal responsibility when machines kill? As sophisticated robotics emerge in an ever-growing array of settings, this transformative technology is posing unprecedented legal, ethical, and philosophical dilemmas.

These challenges, and the quest for effective ways to address them, will be the focus of We Robot 2012: Setting the Agenda, an inaugural conference on legal and policy issues related to robotics, to be held at the University of Miami School of Law on April 21 and 22. The event will prompt conversations among people who are designing, building and deploying robots and those who create or influence the legal and social structures in which robots operate.

Building on existing scholarship about the role of robotics, panelists will discuss how the increasing sophistication of robots —and their widespread deployment in homes, hospitals, public spaces, battlefields, and elsewhere — disrupts existing legal regimes and requires rethinking of policy issues.

A gift from University of Miami School of Law supporters Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein created an endowed distinguished professorship now held by Miami Law Professor A. Michael Froomkin, the second recipient of the award and director of the We Robot conference. Silvers, an alumna of Miami Law, is a trustee of the University.

The conference will be chaired by A. Michael Froomkin, the Laurie Silvers and Michael Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law at the School of Law. The chair was created with a Momentum campaign gift from Silvers, a Miami Law graduate and University trustee, and her husband. Philanthropic support that recognizes and fosters the research and scholarship of outstanding faculty members is a central Momentum2 campaign goal for the school.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Froomkin says about the upcoming conference. “The real challenge is to start a conversation now between the people who make the robots and those who make the rules.”

Guests will include Kate Darling, an intellectual property research specialist at MIT Media Lab who co-teaches a course entitled “Robot Rights” at Harvard Law School; Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law; and retired Brigadier General Richard M. O’Meara, a professor of international law in the Division of Global and Homeland Security Affairs at Rutgers University.

The conference is free and open to the public; however, due to limited space, advance reservations are required. For more information, visit the conference website or email robots@law.miami.edu.

Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami
Cutting-edge discussion at UM Law will probe complex issues raised by sophisticated robotics.