On Friday and Saturday, this year’s WeRobot Conference is being held in Miami as an interdisciplinary gathering of intellectuals to push the boundaries of preëmptive consideration of where the future of robotics will be headed. With science currently moving faster than science fiction can hypothesize about the wide range of topics necessary for the research and development of the next generation of machines, this meeting of minds is geared specifically towards the intersection of multiple societal applications.
Now in its third year, after previously being held at the Stanford Law School, the University of Miami will be hosting a theme that is being termed “Risks and Opportunities.” The topic will cover the diffusion of robotic technologies into social life in real-world settings, as well as the legal issues and implications that arise, because governmental policy will eventually be drowning in ethics questions that the WeRobot Conference hopes to alleviate with a focus on contingency.
Organized by law professor A. Michael Froomkin, the founder of the conference and this year’s Program Chair, the gathering will include social psychologists, engineers, technologists and designers, philosophers, investment bankers, lawyers, and journalists, and will cover a wide array of topics, including drones in civil airspace, self-driving cars, and robots as moral proxies. The Conference will examine the upcoming deployment of intelligent machines into hospitals and public spaces, and even the battlefield. It will be aimed at the influence of social and legal structures that robots will be operating within, covering everything from theory and design to the development of viable systems.
The WeRobot 2014 Conference in Miami will reach beyond the engineering of technology and the materials necessary for advancement, and will delve into the interaction of these robots on a human level within schools to aid teachers, elder facilities, hospitals, and of course, the average American home. The extent of regulation will be advised beforehand for all hypothetical scenarios that the human imagination can create, including product liability, an advisable path before the technology lands in everyone’s lap without any way of knowing how it will function and integrate with society.
The sociopolitical ramifications are astonishing when the future is examined in reference to emerging technology. For instance, Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, will be introducing a paper entitled “Robots and the New Cyberlaw” in which he will detail distinctive ethical quandaries segregated from automation and will cover embodiment, or physical extension into the world as well as mobility, emergence and a machine’s capacity to learn, and the most evocative, social meaning in reference to artificial intelligence.
Other topics at the WeRobot 2014 Conference in Miami will cover whether or not automated law enforcement is feasible, the violation of privacy by robotic email surveillance, the ethics of human-robot interaction if people’s addiction to technology is enhanced by its evolution, and mechanical jurisprudence and the capacity of moral judgment within machines. Other discussions will entail the operation of autonomous drones and the implications of the freedom they will be given to choose between different actions, and demonstrations will be held in the fields of telemedicine and even automated stock trading. The conference is currently being held at the Newman Alumni Center at the University of Miami on the Coral Gables campus and will conclude Saturday evening.
By Elijah Stephens
Follow Elijah on Twitter