Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw

Ryan Calo

University of Washington - School of Law; Stanford University - Law School; Yale Law School

February 28, 2014

California Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 3, pp. 513-63 (2015)
University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-08

Two decades of analysis have produced a rich set of insights as to how the law should apply to the Internet’s peculiar characteristics. But, in the meantime, technology has not stood still. The same public and private institutions that developed the Internet, from the armed forces to search engines, have initiated a significant shift toward robotics and artificial intelligence.

This article is the first to examine what the introduction of a new, equally transformative technology means for cyberlaw and policy. Robotics has a different set of essential qualities than the Internet and, accordingly, will raise distinct legal issues. Robotics combines, for the first time, the promiscuity of data with the capacity to do physical harm; robotic systems accomplish tasks in ways that cannot be anticipated in advance; and robots increasingly blur the line between person and instrument.

Robotics will prove “exceptional” in the sense of occasioning systematic changes to law, institutions, and the legal academy. But we will not be writing on a clean slate: Many of the core insights and methods of cyberlaw will prove crucial in integrating robotics, and perhaps whatever technology follows.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: cyberlaw, robotics, exceptionalism

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Date posted: March 2, 2014 ; Last revised: November 14, 2015

Suggested Citation

Calo, Ryan, Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw (February 28, 2014). California Law Review, Vol. 103, No. 3, pp. 513-63 (2015); University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-08. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2402972 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2402972

Contact Information

Ryan Calo (Contact Author)
University of Washington - School of Law ( email )
William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

Stanford University - Law School ( email )
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Yale Law School ( email )
127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
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