Out of Their Cages and Into the City: Robots, Regulation, and the Changing Nature of Public Spaces

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Centre for Ethics

15 Devonshire Place, Room 200, Larkin Building

Ethics of AI in Context

Out of Their Cages and Into the City: Robots, Regulation, and the Changing Nature of Public Spaces

Robots are an increasingly common feature in North American public spaces. From regulations permitting broader drone use in public airspace and autonomous vehicle testing on public roads, to delivery robots roaming sidewalks in some major U.S. cities, to the announcement of Sidewalk Toronto – a plan to convert waterfront space in one of North America’s largest cities into a robotics-filled smart community – the laws regulating North American public spaces are opening up to robots.
In many of these examples, the growing presence of robots in public space is associated with opportunities to improve human lives through intelligent urban design, environmental efficiency, and greater transportation accessibility. However, the introduction of robots into public space has also raised concerns about, for example, the commercialization of these spaces by the companies that deploy robots; increasing surveillance that will negatively impact physical and data privacy; or the potential marginalization or exclusion of some members of society in favour of those who can pay to access, use, or support the new technologies available in these spaces.
The laws that permit, regulate, or prohibit robotic systems in public spaces will in many ways determine how this new technology impacts the space and the people who inhabit that space. This begs the questions: how should regulators approach the task of regulating robots in public spaces? And should any special considerations apply to the regulation of robots because of the public nature of the spaces they occupy? This presentation will argue that the laws that regulate robots deployed in public space will affect the public nature of that space, potentially to the benefit of some human inhabitants of the space over others. For these reasons, this presentation will argue that special considerations should apply to the regulation of robots that will operate in public space, and will highlight some of these considerations.

Kristen Thomasen
University of Windsor
Law

04:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin

This event is free and open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact the Centre for Ethics at 416 946-6288