Robots in the Ocean

Annie Brett

Annie Brett will present her paper, Robots in the Ocean, on Friday, September 24th at #werobot 2021. Edward Tunstel will lead the 1:45pm – 3:15pm panel on Field Robotics.

Academics (and particularly legal academics) have not paid much attention to robots in the ocean. The small amount of existing work is focused on relatively narrow questions, from whether robots qualify as vessels under the Law of the Sea to whether robotic telepresence can be used to establish a salvage claim on shipwrecks.

This paper looks at how two major robotic advances are creating fundamental challenges for current ocean governance frameworks. The first is a proliferation in robots actively altering ocean conditions through both exploitative alteration, such as deep sea mining, and alteration with conservation goals, such as waste removal. This is best illustrated by The Ocean Cleanup, who defied warnings from scientists in deploying an ocean waste capture prototype that became irreparable merely six months into its voyage. The second is in observational robots that are being used, primarily by scientific and defense entities, to further understand of ocean ecosystems and human activities in them.

Edward Tunstel (moderator)

Annie Brett focuses on the regulatory grey area of international law implicated by robots with the capacity to actively alter ocean conditions. She also focuses on analogues in terrestrial environmental law and climate geoengineering literature to propose a mechanism for regulating robotic interventions in the ocean. Specifically, she argues for a modified form of environmental impact review that attempts to strike a balance between allowing innovation in ocean robots and providing a measure of oversight for interventions that have the potential to permanently alter ocean ecosystems.

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Being “Seen” vs. “Mis-seen”: Tensions Between Privacy and Fairness in Computer Vision

Alice Xiang

Alice Xiang will present her paper, Being “Seen” vs. “Mis-seen”: Tensions Between Privacy and Fairness in Computer Vision, on Friday, September 24th at 11:30am at #werobot 2021. Daniel Susser will lead the discussion.

The rise of AI technologies has caused growing anxiety that AI may create mass surveillance systems and entrench societal biases. Major facial recognition systems are less accurate for women and individuals with darker skin tones due to a lack of diversity in the training datasets. Efforts to diversify datasets can raise privacy issues; plaintiffs can argue that they had not consented to having their images used in facial recognition training datasets.

This highlights the tension that AI technologies create between representation vs. surveillance: we want AI to “see” and “recognize” us, but we are uncomfortable with the idea of AI having access to personal data about us. This tension is further amplified when the need for sensitive attribute data to detect or mitigate bias is considered. Existing privacy law addresses this area primarily by erring on the side of hiding people’s sensitive attributes unless there is explicit informed consent. While some have argued that not being “seen” by AI is preferable—that being under-represented in training data might allow one to evade mass surveillance—incomplete datasets may result in detrimental false-positive identification. Thus, not being “seen” by AI does not protect against being “mis-seen.”

Daniel Susser (discussant)

The first contribution of this article is to characterize this tension between privacy and fairness in the context of algorithmic bias mitigation. In particular, this article argues that the irreducible paradox underlying current efforts to design less biased algorithms is the simultaneous desire to be both “seen” yet “unseen” by AI. Second, the Article reviews the viability of strategies that have been proposed for addressing the tension between privacy and fairness and evaluates whether they adequately address associated technical, operational, legal, and ethical challenges. Finally, this article argues that solving the tension between representation and surveillance requires considering the importance of not being “mis-seen” by AI rather than simply being “unseen.” Untethering these concepts (being seen, unseen, vs. mis-seen) can bring greater clarity around what rights relevant laws and policies should seek to protect. Given that privacy and fairness are both critical objectives for ethical AI, it is vital to address this tension head-on. Approaches that rely purely on visibility or invisibility will likely fail to achieve either objective.

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The Legal Construction of Black Boxes

Elizabeth Kumar

Elizabeth KumarAndrew Selbst, and Suresh Venkatasubramanian will present their paper, The Legal Construction of Black Boxes, on Saturday, September 25th at 10:00am at #werobot 2021. Ryan Calo will lead the discussion.

Abstraction is a fundamental technique in computer science. Formal abstraction treats a system as defined entirely by its inputs, outputs, and the relationship that transforms inputs to outputs. If a system’s user knows those details, they need not know anything else about how the system works; the internal elements can be hidden from them in a “black box.” Abstraction also entails abstraction choices: What are the relevant inputs and outputs? What properties should the transformation between them have? What constitutes the “abstraction boundary?” These choices are necessary, but they have implications for legal proceedings that involve the use of machine learning (ML).

Andrew Selbst

This paper makes two arguments about abstraction in ML and legal proceedings. The first is that abstraction choices that can be treated as normative and epistemic claims made by developers that compete with judgments properly belonging to courts. Abstraction constitutes a claim as to the division of responsibility: what is inside the black box is the province of the developer; what is outside belongs to the user. Abstraction also is a factual definition, rendering the system an intelligible and interrogable object. Yet the abstraction that defines the boundary of a system is itself a design choice. When courts treat technology as a black box with a fixed outer boundary, they unwittingly abdicate their responsibility to make normative judgments as to the division of responsibility for certain wrongs, and abdicate part of their factfinding roles by taking the abstraction boundaries as a given. We demonstrate these effects in discussions of foreseeability in tort law, liability in discrimination law, and evidentiary burdens more broadly.

Suresh Venkatasubramanian

Our second argument builds from that observation. By interpreting the abstraction as one of many possible design choices, rather than a simple fact, courts can surface those choices as evidence to draw new lines of responsibility without necessarily interrogating the interior of the black box itself. Courts may draw on evidence about the system as presented to support these alternative lines of responsibility, but by analyzing the construction of the implied abstraction boundary of a system, they can also consider the context around its development and deployment.

Ryan Calo

Courts can rely on experts to compare a designer’s choices with emerging standard practices in the field of ML or assign a burden to a user to justify their use of off-the-shelf technology. After resurfacing the normative and epistemic contentions embedded in the technology, courts can use familiar lines of reasoning to assign liability as proper.

 

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We Robot 2021 Will Be Virtual After All

We had hoped very much to have a live event, but circumstances make it clear that it’s not to be. We’d looked forward to welcoming you back to Coral Gables, but we’ve decided that due to safety concerns we have to take We Robot to a fully virtual format again.

Starting with its first edition here in Miami, We Robot has sought — we think successfully — to create and encourage interdisciplinary conversations about robotics (and AI) law and policy. We now have a decade’s worth of success at evolving a common vocabulary and a body of work which includes bedrock scholarship for the rapidly expanding fields represented at the conference. We have fostered, and continue to foster connections between a diverse, international, and interdisciplinary group of scholars, ranging from graduate students to senior professors to persons in government and industry. And — not least — we’ve had a lot of fun doing it.

We’re currently exploring various conference tools that we hope will make it easy not only to have an engaging event with significant audience participation, but also will facilitate the side conversations that are part of what makes We Robot the exciting event it has always been. Watch our homepage for the latest news.

We will soon be posting drafts of the papers that will be presented at We Robot. We may be going virtual, but we’re not changing the format: you will have a chance to read the papers before the conference, and indeed we hope that you will do so and come armed with your thoughts and questions. Other than on panels, authors will not present their own papers – instead our discussant will give a quick summary and critique, and then we’ll open it up to questions from the audience. For the panels, the authors speak briefly, then we go to Q&A. Links to the papers will appear on the program page of the website and in a series of blog posts on the front page of the site.

The good news that by going virtual we are no longer capacity constrained. We’re also reducing the price structure of the event. Registration for the workshop day will be only $25; registration for the two-day main conference will be $49 for everyone except for all students, and for UMiami faculty, for whom it will be $25 including the workshop. We do have some fee waivers available if these fees are a hardship for you. If you have already registered you will be notified directly about processing any refunds that may be due.

Although we will not be able to see you in person, we look forward very much to your virtual participation in We Robot 2021. The heart of We Robot has always been in participation by its attendees, and we will do all we can to preserve that.

See you soon–virtually.

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We Robot 2021 Preliminary Program

Join us in person virtually for the 10th Anniversary Edition – Register Here
All times are US Eastern time.

NOTE: Check the Program page for up-to-date information.

Thurs. Sept. 23 Workshop ScheduleWhatWho
10:30-11:00Please see the Attendee Whova Instructions for info about how conference software works and how to log in.Email Ryan Erickson for tech support logging in.
11:00-12:00Here Be Robots:
The panel will discuss basic technical concepts underpinning the latest developments in AI and robotics.
Bill Smart
Cindy Grimm
12:00-1:00LunchEveryone!
1:00-2:00if(goingToTurnEvil), {don’t();}: Creating Legal Rules for Robots
A lawyer, a roboticist, and a sociologist (or other discipline) walk into a bar…to form multidisciplinary teams attempting to craft or tear apart hypothetical legislation. This experiential session combines law, robotics, drones, and networking.
Evan Selinger
Kristen Thomasen
Woody Hartzog
2:00-3:00Break & Breakouts
Finding your Path, Your People, and Your Conference Program--Networking Break
Take a break, or join one of the following networking sessions:
1. How to do interdisciplinary research in this space
2. What do I want to be when I grow up?
3. Welcome to We Robot for newbies
Ryan Calo
Sue Glueck
Kristen Thomasen
3:00-4:00Why Call Them Robots? 100 Years of R.U.R.
The panel will discuss multidisciplinary perspectives on R.U.R., the 1920 sci-fi play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek. "R.U.R." stands for Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti.
Robin Murphy, Joanne Pransky and Jeremy Brett
4:00-4:15BreakEveryone!
4:15-5:30I’ll Take Robot Geeks for $1000, Alex: An Afternoon of Robot Trivia Jason Millar
Woody Hartzog

 

Friday, Sept. 24 ScheduleDay One Events & Links to Taped PresentationsDiscussant
8:30-9:30Check-in / Registration
Please see the Attendee Whova Instructions for info about how conference software works.
Email Ryan Erickson for tech support logging in.
9:30-10:00Welcome and Introductions
Recording of Welcome and Introductions
10:00-11:00The Legal Construction of Black Boxes
Elizabeth Kumar, Andrew Selbst, and Suresh Venkatasubramanian

Recording of discussion of The Legal Construction of Black Boxes
Ryan Calo
11:00-11:30Break
Live Demo Q&A
Societal Implications of Large Language Models
Miles Brundage
We suggest viewing recorded demo in advance of Q&A
11:30-12:30Being "Seen" vs. "Mis-seen": Tensions Between Privacy and Fairness in Computer Vision
Alice Xiang

Recording of discussion of Being "Seen" vs. "Mis-seen": Tensions Between Privacy and Fairness in Computer Vision
Daniel Susser
12:30-12:45Announcements & Lightning Poster Session
12:45-1:45Lunch Break
1:45-3:15Field Robotics Panel

Recording of the Field Robotics Panel
Moderator: Edward Tunstel
3:15-3:45Break
Live Demo Q&A
Skills from Students – Artifacts from a Robot Interaction Design Curriculum for Fifth Grade Students
Daniella DiPaola
We suggest viewing recorded demo in advance of Q&A
3:45-4:45Social Robots and Children’s Fundamental Rights: A Dynamic Four-Component Framework for Research, Development, and Deployment
Vicky Charisi, Selma Šabanović, Urs Gasser, and Randy Gomez

Recording of discussion of Social Robots and Children’s Fundamental Rights
Veronica Ahumada-Newhart
4:45-5:15Break
Live Demo Q&A: Robots and Robotics as a service. Service Robots you can use today.
Jean Duteau, CEO of Robot World
We suggest viewing recorded demo in advance of Q&A
5:15-6:15Driving Into the Loop: Mapping Automation Bias & Liability Issues for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Katie Szilagyi, Jason Millar, Ajung Moon, and Shalaleh Rismani

Recording of discussion of Driving into the Loop
Meg Leta Jones
6:15-7:15Poster Session & Reception
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Drinks, alas, are on you...
7:45-9:45Conference Dinner - check out meetups under the "Community" tab of WhovaVirtual....but enjoy our slide show of pictures from ten years of We Robot

 

Saturday Sept. 25 ScheduleDay Two EventsDiscussant
9:00-10:00Registration
Please see the Attendee Whova Instructions for info about how conference software works.
Email Ryan Erickson for tech support logging in.
10:00-11:00Debunking Robot Rights: Metaphysically, Ethically and Legally
Abeba Birhane, Jelle van Dijk, and Frank Pasquale

Recording of discussion of Debunking Robot Rights Metaphysically, Ethically and Legally
Deb Raji
11:00-11:30Break
Live Demo Q&A
Skills from Students – Artifacts from a Robot Interaction Design Curriculum for Fifth Grade Students
Daniella DiPaola
We suggest viewing recorded demo in advance of Q&A
11:30-12:30Autonomous Vehicle Fleets as Public Infrastructure
Thomas Gilbert and Roel Dobbe

Recording of discussion of Autonomous Vehicle Fleets as Public Infrastructure
Madeleine Clare Elish
12:30-1:30Lunch Break
1:30-2:30Predicting Consumer Contracts
Noam Kolt

Recording of discussion of Predicting Consumer Contracts
Meg Mitchell
2:30-3:00Break
Live Demo Q&A
Societal Implications of Large Language Models
Miles Brundage
We suggest viewing recorded demo in advance of Q&A
3:00-4:00Anti-Discrimination Law’s Cybernetic Black Hole
Marc Canellas

Recording of discussion of Anti-Discrimination Law’s Cybernetic Black Hole
Cynthia Khoo
4:00-4:30Break
4:30-5:30Health Robotics Panel
Recording of the Health Robotics Panel
Moderator: Michelle Johnson
5:30-5:45Awards of Prizes for Best Poster, Best Paper (Jr. Scholars), Best Paper (Sr. Scholars)
Summary & Conclusion
Announcement of next We Robot

Recording of We Robot 2021 Final Session
Kate Darling
Michael Froomkin

Demos

Societal Implications of Large Language Models
Miles Brundage

Skills from Students – Artifacts from a Robot Interaction Design Curriculum for Fifth Grade Students
Daniella DiPaola

We also plan some surprises!

Note: For the latest updates keep an eye on the We Robot 2021 Program page

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We Robot Registration Update

[Updated] The registration portal is now open again.

We are on track for a fully in-person conference!

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We Robot 2021 Posters Deadline Extended to July 15

In light of the uncertainty as to our presentation mode–which we hope to resolve by early July–we’ve extended the time that  the submission portal for We Robot 2021 remains open for poster proposals to July 15, 2021. We’ve closed the portal for papers and demos.

That said, if you have a particularly cool robot you want to demo, get in touch and we may be able to work something out.

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We Robot 2021 Will Have Terrific Papers & Demos

We Robot 2021 is proud to announce the list of accepted papers for our September 24 & 25 meeting days (the 23rd will be our Workshop day – details soon). These papers survived a rigorous double-blind review process, and represent less than 15% of the submissions we received. Sadly, many very good papers got turned away. Happily, we can look forward to these:

Debunking Robot Rights: Metaphysically, Ethically and Legally
Abeba Birhane, Jelle van Dijk, and Frank Pasquale

Discrimination as a Cybernetic System Accident
Marc Canellas

Social Robots and Children’s Fundamental Rights: A Dynamic Four-Component Framework for Research, Development, and Policy
Vicky Charisi, Urs Gasser, Randy Gomez, and Selma Šabanović

Autonomous Vehicles as Public Infrastructure: Building an “AV Development Index” for Tomorrow’s Cities
Roel Dobbe and Thomas Gilbert

Bias in Contract Prediction: A Case Study of GPT-3
Noam Kolt

The Legal Construction of Black Boxes: How Machine Learning Practice Informs Foreseeability
I. Elizabeth Kumar, Andrew Selbst, and Suresh Venkatasubramanian

Driving Into the Loop: Mapping Automation Bias & Liability Issues for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Jason Millar, Ajung Moon, Shalaleh Rismani, and Katie Szilagyi

Being “Seen” vs. “Unseen”: Tensions Between Privacy and Fairness in Algorithmic Bias Mitigation
Alice Xiang

Field Robotics Panel

  • Robots in the Ocean, Annie Brett
  • Smart Farming versus Traditional Knowledge: Mapping the Impacts of AI Automation on East African Smallholder Female Farmers, Jeremy de Beer, Laura Foster, Chidi Oguamanam, Katie Szilagyi, and Angeline Wairegi
  • On the Practicalities of Robots in Public Spaces, Cindy Grimm, Bill Smart, and Kristen Thomasen

Health Panel

  • Somebody That I Used to Know: The Risks of Personalizing Robots for Dementia Care, Sharon Banh, Soyon Kim, Alyssa Kubota, Maryam Pourebadi, and Laurel D. Riek
  • Diverse Patient Perspectives on the Role of AI and Big Data in Healthcare, Kelly Bergstrand, Jess Findley, Christopher Robertson, Marv Slepian, and Andrew Woods
  • Prescribing Discrimination, Krista Kennedy and Charlotte Tschider

Demos

Societal Implications of Large Language Models
Miles Brundage

Skills from Students – Artifacts from a Robot Interaction Design Curriculum for Fifth Grade Students
Daniella Ditaola

 

Please note that we are accepting proposals for posters on a rolling basis until June 1.

We anticipate announcing the form of the conference — in person, virtual, or blended — in early July, so watch this space.  We will also announce a tentative program schedule once we sort out a few logistics…

 

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We Robot Paper Submission Deadline Extended One Week

Everyone says it’s harder to get things done under COVID, so we’re extending the deadline for submission of paper abstracts to We Robot 2021 by one week – to midnight US East Coast time on February 8, 2021.

We will attempt to keep to the rest of the schedule, but paper acceptance notices may end up slightly delayed also.

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We Robot 2021 Submission Portal Now Open

We’ve opened the submission portal for We Robot 2021. There are three submission tracks: papers, posters, and demos/art installations. Although the submission tracks are separate, the conference will proceed on one track, so the three types of presentations will be mixed in together.

You will need an EasyChair account to submit a proposal; if you don’t have one, don’t worry, they’re free and easy to create.

For people planning to submit a paper proposal, we’ve also created a short guide to ‘What Makes a Great We Robot Proposal?‘ and included some sample abstracts that impressed past reviewers.

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