Ryan Calo

Photo of Ryan  Calo
Assistant Professor of Law

Phone: (206) 543-1580

Curriculum Vitae | SSRN author page

  • Feb 19, 2015

    Source: CBC News

    There’s a revolution happening and it’s overhead. The drones are coming. From Amazon to Google, the government and your neighbours, everyone is embracing the drone. The big question is: who gets to use them, and how? (2/19/15)
  • Feb 15, 2015

    Source: The New York Times

    In an attempt to bring order to increasingly chaotic skies, the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight and keep their aircraft in sight. (2/15/15)
  • Feb 05, 2015

    Source: Wired

    If you want to understand why the government freaked out when a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter landed on the White House grounds last week, you need to look four miles away, to a small briefing room in Arlington, Virginia. There, just 10 days earlier, officials from the US military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FAA gathered for a DHS “summit” on a danger that had been consuming them privately for years: the potential use of hobbyist drones as weapons of terror or assassination. (2/5/15)
  • Feb 02, 2015

    Source: SciFri

    Early Monday morning, a small drone—weighing about two pounds—crashed on the White House's South Lawn. In response to the incident, President Obama told CNN that regulatory bodies need to "make sure that these things aren't dangerous and that they're not violating people's privacy." As drones become increasingly cheap and accessible to consumers, do we have laws in place to address potential privacy concerns and violations? Ryan Calo, a law professor specializing in robotics at the University of Washington in Seattle, discusses possible ways to regulate drones and other potentially invasive technologies. (2/2/15)
  • Jan 29, 2015

    Source: The New York Times

    We are not ready for driverless cars because our public officials lack the expertise to evaluate the safety of this new class of automobiles. (1/29/15)
  • Jan 19, 2015

    Source: GeekWire

    Seattleites clearly know how to get loud at a sporting event. Now, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell wants her constituents to be equally vocal about supporting net neutrality. (1/19/15)
  • Jan 13, 2015

    Source: BBC

    Billions of dollars are pouring into the latest investor craze: artificial intelligence. But serious scientists like Stephen Hawking have warned that full AI could spell the end of the human race. How seriously should we take the warnings that ever-smarter computers could turn on us? Our expert witnesses explain the threat, the opportunities and how we might avoid being turned into paperclips. (1/13/15)
  • Jan 12, 2015

    Source: Financial Times

    It will be an interesting year for the X-47B. The new unmanned aircraft, developed by Northrop Grumman, will be put through its paces on a US warship to check it can do all the things existing aircraft can: take off and land safely, maintain a holding pattern, and “clear the deck” for the next aircraft in just 90 seconds. (1/12/15)
  • Dec 24, 2014

    Source: The New York Times

    By now you probably know that browsing the web leaves you open to tracking by Internet service providers, website operators and advertisers. But less well known is that you can be tracked simply by opening an email. Merely clicking or tapping to open a message can transmit to the sender not only that you opened it, but also where you were when you did so and on what device, among other things. (12/24/14)
  • Dec 23, 2014

    Source: Medium

    Companies and institutions track us almost indiscriminately. Is this the world we want to live in? (12/23/14)
  • Dec 23, 2014

    Source: Forbes

    It is always fun, and sometimes worrying, to see imagination come to life. I was on a panel last year at UC Berkeley around robotics and law. We talked about some of the conundrums robots and artificial intelligence might pose for law and policy–the subject of my forthcoming work Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw. One hypothetical involved a shopping “bot” that randomly purchases items on the Internet. What if the bot purchases an item that is illegal in the jurisdiction where the item was shipped? (12/23/14)
  • Dec 09, 2014

    Source: Aljazeera America

    From increased demands for encryption and private browsing to using pseudonyms online, the post–Edward Snowden era has renewed the conversation about online privacy.
  • Dec 06, 2014

    Source: The Economist

    European policymakers look into making laws for automated machines and come up with some problems. (12/6/14)
  • Dec 04, 2014

    Source: The State Press

    The market for drones has significantly dropped in price and risen in popularity, allowing the intrusive devices to fall in the wrong hands of troublemakers and cause public unrest over privacy. (12/4/14)
  • Dec 03, 2014

    Source: Marketplace.org

    When it comes to this holiday season, the future is now. "We've been talking about robot helpers in the home for decades.... And we're kind of finally getting there," says Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson. (12/3/14)
  • Dec 03, 2014

    Source: ars technica

    How do you know that your customer service robot is still very much a work in progress? When it requires a human attendant to help. Less than two months ago, home-improvement chain Lowe’s introduced its new OSHbot with a lot of fanfare and even earned itself a few jabs on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. (12/3/14)
  • Nov 26, 2014

    Source: The New York Times

    Amateur photographers and Hollywood filmmakers turn to them for lush overhead shots. Geologists use them to look above the seas for oil-bearing rocks. Amazon executives are pushing to use them to plop packages onto doorsteps. But now drones — the unmanned flying vehicles the size of a pizza box — are also a favorite tool for more unruly groups: pranksters and troublemakers. (11/26/14)
  • Nov 25, 2014

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

    Planned federal rules would likely preclude delivery drones being developed by Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc., and make some other potential drone uses too expensive for small businesses, industry proponents said. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose rules for commercial drones next month. (11/25/14)
  • Nov 19, 2014

    Source: USA Today

    Consumers and lawmakers are expressing concern about privacy after Uber said it is investigating one of its executives for allegedly tracking the private travel records of a journalist without her permission. (11/19/14)
  • Nov 01, 2014

    Source: The Seattle Times

    The school shooting in Marysville and its aftermath offer a stark look into how distressed teens use social media to share problems they might previously have discussed with a school counselor. Increasingly, Facebook, Tumblr and similar websites are trying to meet young people where they live. (11/1/14)
  • Oct 28, 2014

    Source: International Business Times

    The Seattle Times is furious with the FBI after it emerged that the bureau impersonated Times journalists to install spyware on a 15-year-old bomb threat suspect. The disclosure is the latest example of a law enforcement agency masquerading itself online to dupe people into providing information. (10/28/14)
  • Oct 27, 2014

    Source: Slate

    In the early days of dot-com, the law found the Internet unsettling. That a buyer in one location could access the website of a seller in any other forced courts to revisit basic questions of jurisdiction and federalism. The potential to share and edit software and other digital objects introduced novel questions of ownership and control. In the mid-’90s, a movement arose among legal academics to address these and similar challenges. The central tensions of “cyberlaw” flow from the characteristics that distinguish the Internet from prior or constituent technology such as computers or phones. (10/27/14)
  • Oct 20, 2014

    Source: Science

    As robots take on societal roles that were once the province of humans, they are creating new legal dilemmas. (10/20/14)
  • Oct 17, 2014

    Source: The New York Times

  • Oct 14, 2014

    Source: The Washington Post

    My prediction is that in fewer than 15 years, we will be debating whether human beings should be allowed to drive on highways. After all, we are prone to road rage; rush headlong into traffic jams; break rules; get distracted; and crash into each other. That is why our automobiles need tank-like bumper bars and military-grade crumple zones. And it is why we need speed limits and traffic police. Self-driving cars won’t have our limitations. They will prevent tens of thousands of fatalities every year and better our lifestyles. They will do to human drivers what the horseless carriage did to the horse and buggy. (10/14/14)
  • Oct 13, 2014

    Source: USA Today

    Let's talk robots. Not science fiction film plots, '80s dance moves or frenetic 'they're stealing our jobs' narratives intending to draw upon readers' deep-seated anxieties -- but the realistic capabilities of robots and the influence of robotic technologies on the American workforce. (10/13/14)
  • Oct 06, 2014

    Source: Buzzfeed

    A DEA agent commandeered a woman’s identity, created a phony Facebook account in her name, and posted racy photos he found on her seized cell phone. The government said he had the right to do that. Update: Facebook has removed the page and the Justice Department said it is reviewing the incident. (10/6/14)
  • Oct 03, 2014

    Source: Slate

    Are robot babysitters ethical? Will the future of the Internet look like You’ve Got Mail? How can we use science fiction to inspire scientists?   (10/3/14)
  • Oct 02, 2014

    Source: USA Today

    Facebook said Thursday that it will tighten oversight of research on "deeply personal topics" or that targets specific groups of people.
    But it did not say whether it would get consent from users before conducting research on them, nor is it clear what standards or guidelines researchers will adhere to. Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, said Facebook is taking a step in the right direction.
  • Oct 02, 2014

    Source: The New York Times

    Facebook said on Thursday that future research on its 1.3 billion users would be subjected to greater internal scrutiny from top managers, particularly if it focused on “deeply personal topics” or specific groups of people. “This is a company whose lifeblood is consumer data. So mistrust by the public, were it to reach too critical a point, would pose an existential threat to the company,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, who had urged Facebook to create a review panel for research. “Facebook needs to reassure its users they can trust them.” (10/2/14)
  • Sep 29, 2014

    Source: Forbes

    The pin-up page for the 2015 Corvette brags about the car’s many features, including its “industry-exclusive Performance Data Recorder,” which is like a Fitbit for the owners’ driving, collecting stats about a particular drive as well as audio and video. And there’s a bonus feature to the recorder, according to Chevrolet’s website: a “nanny cam.” “You can even capture video and data when someone else is driving the car with Valet Mode, giving you extra peace of mind.”
    Not exactly. Depending on which state the valet is, it might give the Corvette owner a criminal mind. While engineers may have thought a “baby monitor” for the car was a great idea, lawyers apparently didn’t review the surreptitious recording feature closely. Last week, as first reported on Corvette Forum, car parent company GM sent out notices to dealerships and to new Corvette owners warning them not to use the feature, because it’s a wee bit illegal in some states to record someone’s expletives about how awesome driving your car is without their consent.
  • Sep 28, 2014

    Source: New Hampshire Public Radio

    Professor Ryan Calo speaks to New Hampshire Public Radio about his Brookings Institute paper, The Case for A Robotics Commission.  (9/28/14)
  • Sep 27, 2014

    Source: Ars Technica

    Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, who has studied drone law, told Ars that the government shouldn't impose a double standard.
    "I'll say this: the government should not have a monopoly on drones, banning the use by the press and others while retaining the right themselves," he said. "This is an important technology and there needs to be symmetry."
  • Sep 27, 2014

    Source: Forbes

    While inferring what we want can save us time, make it easier for us to accomplish goals, and expedite finding things we expect will bring us pleasure, predictive technology also can create problems. Privacy scholars like Ryan Calo note that if marketers can use big data to predict when we’re susceptible to lowering our guard, they can capitalize on our vulnerabilities. A related concern was expressed when Facebook ran it’s infamous emotion contagion experiment. If social media companies can predict, with ever-finer precision, what makes users eager to engage with their platforms, they can design features that will manipulate us accordingly. (9/27/14)
  • Sep 26, 2014

    Source: Slate

    On Thursday, the Australian Senate passed a bill that would increase the powers of domestic spy agency ASIO, giving it the ability to monitor all of the Australian Internet with a single warrant. It could also send anyone who “recklessly” discloses information that “relates to a special intelligence operation” to jail for up to 10 years. (Any operation can be considered special.) The bill is expected to pass the House, where it will be up for a vote on Tuesday at the earliest.
    The law will, if passed, dramatically increase the government’s powers of surveillance, but despite Abbott's reference to a "shift," it’s not necessarily inconsistent with existing Australian policy. Ryan Calo, assistant professor of the University Washington School of Law and author of a Brookings report on why the United States needs a federal robotics commission, pointed to Australia as a country with a more deliberate, and more consistently permissive, policy toward drones, surveillance drones included.
  • Sep 25, 2014

    Source: The Economist

    WHEN the autonomous cars in Isaac Asimov's 1953 short story “Sally” encourage a robotic bus to dole out some rough justice to an unscrupulous businessman, the reader is to believe that the bus has contravened Asimov's first law of robotics, which states that “a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”.
    Asimov's "three laws" are a bit of science-fiction firmament that have escaped into the wider consciousness, often taken to be a serious basis for robot governance. But robots of the classic sort, and bionic technologies that enhance or become part of humans, raise many thorny legal, ethical and regulatory questions. If an assistive exoskeleton is implicated in a death, who is at fault? If a brain-computer interface is used to communicate with someone in a vegetative state, are those messages legally binding? Can someone opt to replace their healthy limbs with robotic prostheses?
  • Sep 19, 2014

    Source: Silicon Beat

    We’ve got cars without drivers out there. Companies are testing drone delivery. Specialized robots are being used inside and outside factories. Ethical, societal and legal concerns surrounding automation and robotics abound. So a new Brookings Institute report says it’s time for a federal commission for robotics.
    Ryan Calo, assistant professor at the University of the Washington School of Law and formerly at the Center for the Internet and Society, wrote the report. He believes robotics will bring about such a profound change that a new government agency is necessary.
  • Sep 15, 2014

    Source: The Washington Post

    Why does the United States needs a new federal commission focused solely on understanding our robot future? The real question is, why don't we?
    Ryan Calo is an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, and in a new paper out from Brookings he makes the case that a new Federal Robotics Commission would help make sense of the various technology applications that separate human agency from execution. 
  • Sep 10, 2014

    Source: U.S. News & World Report

    That sounds very convenient, but it also raises questions about where data is stored and how it is used by those with access to it. Apple recently faced cybersecurity backlash after the hackers stole nude photos from iCloud online storage accounts owned by movie star such as Jennifer Lawrence, which the company said was due to poor password protection by the users, not a data breach of its systems.
    “It’s a reminder that anything you put in the cloud – even things you think are gone after deleting them – can still be there,” says Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington.
  • Aug 29, 2014

    Source: Tech Times

    Though militarized drones strike terror into the hearts of those on the ground below, Google wants its autonomous aircraft to bring hope as the micro air vehicles deliver aid to those affected by disasters. (8/29/14)
  • Aug 29, 2014

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

    "I don't know that Google is much better positioned than Amazon or anyone else in terms of technology, but the company has a track record of being influential in terms of policy," said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who studies robotics and privacy.
    Earlier this year, the FAA said it didn't contemplate autonomous drone delivery, effectively grounding Google's and Amazon's ambitions for now, Mr. Calo noted. However, he said having both Google and Amazon working to change the FAA's view increased their chances of success.
  • Aug 28, 2014

    Source: The Atlantic

    One area where Google will almost certainly have a major impact is in shaping the regulations that ultimately govern unmanned aircraft. “To a far greater degree than Amazon, Google has a history of working with policymakers and stakeholders on technology reform,” the University of Washington’s Ryan Calo, an expert on drone regulation, said. “Think net neutrality, fair use, privacy, and recently transportation. Adding Google’s voice could have a significant effect on regulatory policy toward drones.” (8/28/14)
  • Aug 25, 2014

    Source: Smithsonian

    Previously, in the age of the studio photo, “you had to sit there and pose. You not only had to give your consent, you had to cooperate a lot,” notes Ryan Calo, an assistant professor of law at the University of Washington who specializes in privacy issues. With a hand-held camera, a picture could be taken of you unawares. (8/25/14)
  • Aug 19, 2014

    Source: Venture Beat

    Google’s self-driving cars are designed to exceed the speed limit by up to 10 miles per hour because stubbornly obeying the law can be a danger to everyone on the road. The legal and philosophical consequences of this fact are fascinating. (8/19/14)
  • Aug 07, 2014

    Source: The Washington Post

    The all-new version of Foursquare, announced Wednesday, “learns what you like, leads you to places you’ll love,” and tracks your every movement even when the app is closed. “I am not surprised to see Foursquare move to passive collection of location information. It seems to be something of a trend,” said Ryan Calo, professor at University of Washington School of Law. “The concern for consumers is that Foursquare or its partners will use this information in a way that surprises and disadvantages consumers.” (8/7/14)
  • Aug 06, 2014

    Source: Ars Technica

    Newly published documents show that the San Jose Police Department (SJPD), which publicly acknowledged Tuesday that it should have “done a better job of communicating” its drone acquisition, does not believe that it even needs federal authorization in order to fly a drone. The Federal Aviation Administration thinks otherwise. (8/6/14)
  • Aug 05, 2014

    Source: The Verge

    Ryan Calo, a lawyer specializing in robotics at University of Washington, believes anthropomorphic bots will raise new privacy concerns. Because we treat them like semi-humans, it feels like they’re always watching us. "If our spaces become populated by these artificial agents, we’ll never feel like we have moments off-stage," he says. The way someone has chosen to program their companion bot, or the way they treat it, could also become a trove of extremely personal information, he says. (8/5/14)
  • Jul 18, 2014

    Source: Business Insider

    Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington with an eye on robot ethics and policy, does not see a machine uprising ever happening: “Based on what I read, and on conversations I have had with a wide variety of roboticists and computer scientists, I do not believe machines will surpass human intelligence — in the sense of achieving ‘strong’ or ‘general’ AI — in the foreseeable future. Even if processing power continues to advance,we would need an achievement in software on par with the work of Mozart to reproduce consciousness.”
    Calo adds, however, that we should watch for warnings leading up to a potential singularity moment. If we see robots become more multipurpose and contextually aware then they may then be “on their way to strong AI,” says Calo. That will be a tip that they’re advancing to the point of danger for humans.
  • Jul 17, 2014

    Source: Wired

    How the legal system would deal with child-like sex robots isn’t entirely clear, according to Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that simulated child pornography (in which young adults or computer generated characters play the parts of children) is protected by the First Amendment and can’t be criminalized. “I could see that extending to embodied [robotic] children, but I can also see courts and regulators getting really upset about that,” Calo said. (7/17/14)
  • Jul 14, 2014

    Source: Forbes

    If an entrepreneur started up KidSexBots-R-Us, would it be legal? Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, thinks it might be, based on the Supreme Court’s treatment of child pornography. “What appears to be child porn, but isn’t, is not illegal,” said Calo. Making or possessing child pornography results in severe legal penalties; those who watch child porn sometimes get longer sentences than people convicted of actually molesting children. However, in 2002, the Supreme Court drew a line between child porn and “virtual child porn” where the “child” is actually a young-looking adult or a computer-rendered image. It said images that are wholly faked, no matter how realistic they were, are legal. So the law might see sex with a “virtual child” the same way. At least in the U.S. (7/14/14)
  • Jul 13, 2014

    Source: NBC News

    Ryan Calo, a drone expert and assistant professor of law the University of Washington, thinks the drones can be effective, but worries about how they might be used in the future after reports of them being rented out to agencies like the FBI and local sheriff's departments.
    "Once you have drones for this one purpose, you could start to use them more often domestically, and then they become part of an ever more militarized police force," he told NBC News. "That is a trend to be concerned about."
  • Jul 10, 2014

    Source: Forbes

    Ryan Calo, an academic at the University of Washington, was writing about corporate lab rats even before it became a hot topic of conversation. “It’s about information asymmetry,” he says. “A company has all this information about the consumer, the ability to design every aspect of the interaction and an economic incentive to extract as much value as possible. And that makes consumers nervous.” (7/10/14)
  • Jul 08, 2014

    Source: Robotics Business Review

    It only lasted for two minutes and thirteen seconds (watch it for yourself below), but Ryan Calo’s “Big Idea” at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado is here to stay for a long, long time.
    What Calo said wasn’t overly profound; such things are difficult to pull off in two minutes—unless you’re Abe Lincoln, Shakespeare, or a Biblical prophet.
    Rather, he was making the kind of common sense that makes audiences nod in surprise agreement and then turn to one another and nod again, which in itself is a kind of profound reaction for an idea from a law professor from Seattle. But, this was Ryan Calo, and he has a habit of getting audiences to react to his ideas in that way.
  • Jul 07, 2014

    Source: Business Insider

    Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington (and one of Business Insider's most important people in robotics), believes that robotic technology is advancing so rapidly with such heavyweight implications that the current structure of the US government will be ill-equipped to handle it, reports The Atlantic. (7/7/14)
  • Jul 07, 2014

    Source: Marketplace Tech

    First up, Ryan Calo, Associate Law Professor at the University of Washington and an affiliate scholar at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, talks about why companies like Facebook should be thinking about the ethics of information and consumer research. (7/7/14)
  • Jul 05, 2014

    Source: Venture Beat

    University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo has recommended the creation of “Consumer Subject Review Boards”, which review the research of private companies. It’s akin to the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) already standard at every major university.
    I met Professor Calo last week at the Atlantic Aspen Ideas festival; he later wrote to me, “I think Facebook would have fared better under this regime because they would have had a set of established criteria as well as a record of when and why it was approved.
  • Jul 05, 2014

    Source: The Seattle Times

    A woman alarmed by a drone flying around her Seattle high rise unknowingly launched a Portland business owner into a futuristic world of drones saddled with confusing policies. Now, Joe Vaughn could face a $10,000 fine for commercially flying his 25-pound drone. (7/5/14)
  • Jul 02, 2014

    Source: The New York Times

    Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law who studies technology policy, has called for companies that conduct experiments on their users to create “consumer subject review boards,” a kind of internal ombudsman who would assess each proposed experiment and balance the potential risks to users against the potential rewards.
    “There’s enough pressure and understanding of this issue that these firms are going to have to come up with a way to make the public and regulators comfortable with experimenting with consumers,” Mr. Calo said.
  • Jul 02, 2014

    Source: Forbes

    When a technology company behaves badly, you hear one defense brought up repeatedly: they could have done so much worse. When Google decided that they would use your face in their advertisements, you shouldn’t have been outraged, you should have been relieved they didn’t tell everyone your darkest secrets. The message is, given what they know about you, you should be grateful that they treat you as well as they do.
    Meanwhile, there is an arms race to delve deeper into your personal information to make it actionable. While the last ten years were focused on how to collect as much information as possible, the next will be focused on how to turn that information into action. Legal scholar Ryan Calo argues that we need to watch out for “digital market manipulation” here – where companies use your background, details, and emotional state to coerce you into buying products you don’t need or paying higher prices than you normally would. He’s got a point; knowing and influencing your emotional state can be a major advantage in getting your attention, a factor that influenced Facebook to undertake this study in the first place.
  • Jul 01, 2014

    Source: Slate

    The government plans to use facial recognition and iris scanning to foreigners’ visa status as they’re leaving the United States, according to Nextgov. At a new biometric testing center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, government officials will spend the next eight to 12 months working on the technology and its application for its premiere in 10 major airports by 2015.
    Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington and a privacy expert, told me that he’s concerned with how facial recognition technology could judge the mental state of exiting passengers. “What I worry about with biometrics is the capacity to tell things like: Is this person nervous? Are they lying? … I worry about too closely studying human subjects at the borders, in or out,” he says. There are currently technologies that can register your emotion using facial recognition, and the new DHS program could include such abilities.
  • Jul 01, 2014

    Source: Mashable

    Facebook manipulated the News Feeds of hundreds of thousands of people to see if showing them mostly positive or negative posts affected their emotions. The research ignited anger among users, who accused the company of manipulation in the guise of science. But did Facebook actually break any laws? Mashable talked to law professors to separate fact from fiction. Several factors have to be considered when judging whether Facebook broke any laws. First of all, Facebook's terms of service (which the company calls its Data Use Policy) makes it clear that, when creating an account, a user consents to his or her data being used for "research" — although what kind of research is unclear.
    Ryan Calo, a privacy expert and law professor at the University of Washington, told Mashable that the study may be "creepy" but not necessarily in violation of any privacy law.

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