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Who’s Responsible When Robots Kill?

Why ask the question? Well, imagine that today’s robot vacuums and floor washers (like the recently upgraded Scooba) eventually spawn cousins who mow lawns and trim hedges. Now imagine that robot hedge trimmer chopping off your neighbor’s arm.

“We Robot,” taking place at the University of Miami School of Law April 21-22, will examine how the increasing sophistication and deployment of robots is challenging existing law and policies.

“Robots are the next Internet, ” says A. Michael Froomkin, the law-school professor who conceived the conference. “They’re going to be everywhere, and they’re going to be important. Somebody better get in on the ground floor and start thinking about legal issues.”

Unlike the Internet, though, robots actually physically interact with the world — an “iPhone with a corkscrew and chainsaw attached,” as Froomkin describes them. As robots slowly become more common, they’ll inevitably run up against legal issues, he says.

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