Press

EFF Thanks Franzi Roesner for Her Help With “Privacy Badger”

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This week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a new browser add-on that prevents ads, social widgets, and hidden trackers. The Tech Policy Lab’s Franzi Roesner was thanked by the EFF “for exceptional work in enhancing Privacy Badger’s widget-handling algorithms.”

Read more here.

Moral Hazards and Legal Conundrums of Our Robot Filled-Future – Director Calo in Wired

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(photo credit Bruno Cordioli)

Lab Director Ryan Calo was recently on a robotics panel at UC Berkeley that has been featured on Wired.

“The robots are coming, and they’re getting smarter. They’re evolving from single-task devices like Roomba and its floor-mopping, pool-cleaning cousins into machines that can make their own decisions and autonomously navigate public spaces. Thanks to artificial intelligence, machines are getting better at understanding our speech and detecting and reflecting our emotions. In many ways, they’re becoming more like us.

Whether you find it exhilarating or terrifying (or both), progress in robotics and related fields like AI is raising new ethical quandaries and challenging legal codes that were created for a world in which a sharp line separates man from machine. Last week, roboticists, legal scholars, and other experts met at the University of California, Berkeley law school to talk through some of the social, moral, and legal hazards that are likely to arise as that line starts to blur.

At a panel discussion on July 11, the discussion ranged from whether police should be allowed to have drones that can taser suspected bad guys to whether life-like robots should have legal rights. One of the most provocative topics was robot intimacy. If, for example, pedophilia could be eradicated by assigning child-like robots to sex offenders, would it be ethical to do that? Is it even ethical to do the research to find out if it would work?”

Read more here.

Consumer Subject Review Boards: Co-Director Ryan Calo on NPR Marketplace

Following the news about a Facebook study on the effects of changing the positive or negative comments on a user’s News Feed, many articles have taken Facebook to task for experimenting on their users. Others have pointed out that this study is in line with using algorithms to tailor content, and suggest new processes for companies to handle such research.

Recently, Co-Director Ryan Calo was interviewed on NPR’s Market Place Tech about his 2013 suggestion for Consumer Subject Review Boards. You can listen to the discussion here.

Lab Member Tamara Bonaci talks with Geekwire about Brain-Computer Interfaces and Privacy

GeekWire talked to Tamara Bonaci and Howard Chizeck about Brain-Computer Interfaces and Privacy recently:

“The past couple of years have brought a series of revelations about the lack of privacy online — all the ways that companies and the government can use our activity on the Internet and mobile devices to collect and capitalize on personal details about our lives.

So what happens when we start hooking our brains up to these devices?

That’s our topic on the GeekWire radio show and podcast this week, and it’s the focus of our two guests, who are conducting research into the privacy implications of brain-computer interfaces. We’re joined in the studio by Howard Chizeck, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, and UW graduate student Tamara Bonaci.”

“Is America Incapable of Regulating Robots?” Co-Director Ryan Calo in The Atlantic

Recently, Lab Co-Director Ryan Calo spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival and The Atlantic covered his talk and his latest article “Robotics and the New Cyberlaw

“Law professor Ryan Calo believes that robots are soon going to constitute a more abrupt departure from the technologies that preceded them than did the Internet from personal computers and telephones. Robotic technology is changing so fast, with such significant implications, that he believes the federal government is ill equipped to regulate the society we’ll soon be living in. Hence his Friday pitch to an Aspen Ideas Festival crowd: a new federal agency to regulate robots.

The idea is not without precedent. Transformative advances like radio, vaccines, railroads, autos, and airplanes have prompted new federal agencies. Anticipating the objection that overzealous regulation might slow innovation, Calo argued that robots aren’t now unregulated, they just fall under the purview of various agencies that lack the expertise to make sound, timely decisions, and who, fearing the unknown, often say “no” to desirable innovations as a result.”

Read more here.