Ryan Calo

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Assistant Professor of Law

Phone: (206) 543-1580
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Curriculum Vitae | SSRN author page



  • Apr 09, 2015

    Source: KUOW

    The Washington State Senate thinks even more regulating laws are necessary. On Wednesday senators voted unanimously to outlaw ticket bot computer software that buys up to 40 percent of the tickets for a concert before the public gets a stab at them. This is only the latest effort to regulate robots and robotic software. (4/9/15)
  • Mar 19, 2015

    Source: The Economist

    UNMANNED aircraft, otherwise known as drones, are becoming common. Many are familiar with America’s use of armed drones in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, but drones are increasingly being used by other parts of the government, as well as by companies and individuals. Drones can be far cheaper to operate than anything that requires an on-board pilot, and they are handy for making maps and taking pictures and videos. The FBI uses a small fleet of drones for law-enforcement surveillance. Customs and Border Patrol uses them to monitor the American border with Mexico (though the programme was recently found to be ineffective and expensive). Commercial drones are now regularly used for real-estate photography and to monitor oil and gas pipelines, among many other applications. (3/19/15)
  • Mar 19, 2015

    Source: The Huffington Post

    With every iPhone, iPad and iPod comes a set of densely worded documents informing you that by using these gadgets you're giving up a ton of highly sensitive information. It's perfectly legal for Apple to gobble up all this personal data because you've basically said it's allowed to do so. Worse, you might not even realize that you have. (3/19/15)
  • Mar 13, 2015

    Source: Popular Science

    There is clear momentum behind the concept of AI safety. When the non-profit Future of Life Institute released an open letter on AI safety in January, a great many people who have no professional involvement with AI signed on. But it wasn't an entirely amateur-hour affair. The signatories included computer scientists, roboticists, and legal experts. One of the latter was Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in robotics. (3/13/15)
  • Mar 12, 2015

    Source: KUOW

    The Federal Aviation Administration sent a cease and desist letter postmarked March 9 to Jayson Hanes, a YouTube user who regularly uploads drone videos. The note warned him that he was violating drone regulations by using them for commercial purposes without the proper authorization. Hanes claims that he uses drones purely as a hobby. (3/12/15)
  • 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.
    (12/9/14)
  • 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

    (10/17/14)
  • 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.
    (10/2/14)
  • 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.
    (9/29/14)
  • 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."
    (9/27/14)
  • 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.
    (9/26/14)
  • 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?
    (9/25/14)
  • 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.
    (9/19/14)
  • 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. 
    (9/15/14)
  • 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.
    (9/10/14)
  • 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.
    (8/29/14)
  • 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)

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