592.01 Frontier Robotics: Law & Ethics

Robots, with us for several generations already, were long confined to narrow uses and trained users, assembling our vehicles and moving our products behind the scenes. In recent years, robotic tools have begun to step out of the back room and take center stage. Are we ready? Probably not. Surely our legal systems and ethical frameworks must evolve. We must find ways to ensure that human-robot interactions occur in ways that are safe and are consistent with our cultural values. We must take care that our policies and laws provide the direction we need without quashing or hindering the innovations that could improve our lives.

The course will bring together three core areas: (1) law, (2) ethics/science policy, and (3) applied technology/science

Because frontier technologies challenge existing legal regimes and ethical frameworks, this course pairs law and ethics students to "shadow" technologists who are actively developing these new, disruptive technologies. In this case, students will shadow roboticists at Pratt's robotics labs (primarily the Humans and Autonomy Lab—HAL—but other labs may be added if appropriate).

Beyond lab time with roboticists, time spent for class preparation, and in-class time, each student will be required to complete a substantial research-based writing piece that adds to current legal/policy discourse. While outputs for such writing will depend on each student's area of focus and the outlets where his or her research can have the most influence, there are several outlets that students are most likely to employ. Chief among these is outlets is the Robotics track of http://sciencepolicy.duke.edu/, where students will comment on legislative proposals, offer white papers, build research repositories, etc.

Spring 2017

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Research and/or analytical paper(s), 10-15 pages
In-class exercise
Class participation
Jeff Ward
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.592.01.Sp17
Email list: LAW.592.01.Sp17@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - JD-LLM-LE
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Areas of Practice