In New Book, Professor Frank Pasquale sets the New Laws of Robotics


At a book talk held virtually on Oct. 23, Professor Frank Pasquale, an expert on the intersection between technology and the law, outlined key concepts in his new book, New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI (Harvard University Press, 2020). The talk was sponsored by the Law School’s Center for Health, Science, and Public Policy.

Pasquale argues that artificial intelligence and robotics should complement, rather than replace, human labor in professions, and that governments and institutions are capable of securing that outcome. They can do this by maintaining or adjusting existing rules of tort, contract, reimbursement, licensure, and many other areas. He offers examples of doctors, nurses, teachers, home health aides, journalists, and others working with roboticists and computer scientists to build systems to assist them in their work without abandoning human labor and judgement.

“[These] cooperative relationships prefigure the kind of technological advance that could bring better health care, education, and more to all of us, while maintaining meaningful work,” wrote Pasquale. “They also show how law and public policy can help us achieve peace and inclusive prosperity rather than a ‘race against the machines.’”

Joining the discussion were Professor Adam Kolber, whose work focuses on the intersection of law and neuroscience, and Professor Gregg Macey, who studies the connections between environmental law and policy and the science that undergirds it. Both are affiliated with the Center for Health, Science, and Public Policy.

“In writing a book like this, I think a lot about the future of work and how we can have a broader view of how we want to shape the world,” said Pasquale. “The glimmer of hope in the legal profession is that, at our best, we’re not just trying to predict the future, we’re trying to plan for better futures.”

Pasquale has been sought after by the media to speak on the regulation of AI and algorithmically-driven technology. This fall, he authored essays published by the Brookings Institute and in the Guardian and was the subject of an in-depth interview with Commonweal. His work has also been featured in numerous outlets, including Bloomberg Businessweek (alongside fellow faculty member Professor K. Sabeel Rahman) and CBC Radio. He will appear on Australia’s Future Tense radio later this month.

At this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival, Pasquale spoke on a panel with other authors to discuss the ways in which the development of algorithms and AI has changed everyone’s daily lives. The panel, moderated by Vice Dean Christina Mulligan, was covered by Spectrum News NY1. He has also given book talks for universities and conference around the world, in Italy, the U.K., Denmark, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Australia, as well as for the University of North Carolina and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Pasquale is a noted expert and scholar on the law of artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning, focusing on how information is used across areas including health law, commerce, and tech. His previous book, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information (Harvard University Press, 2015), has been recognized internationally as a landmark study on how “big data” affects our lives. He is also coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI (Oxford University Press, 2020). Pasquale presently chairs the Subcommittee on Privacy, Confidentiality, and Security, part of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, where he is serving a four-year term.

Order Pasquale’s book here

Read more at the Brookings Institute, the Guardian, Commonweal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and CBC Radio

Watch Pasquale on Spectrum News NY1