How to Retrofit the First Law of Robotics

Presented at HOPE Number Nine (2012), July 15, 2012, 1 p.m. (60 minutes)

We live with robots now, as we always knew we would. But they have no hands or feet. We carry them in our pockets. They see what we see. They hear what we hear. They always know where we are. But they do not work for us, and they are not programmed to obey the First Law. Profit made them, profit runs them, and they hurt us every day. Free Software can retrofit the First Law of Robotics into the robots we call cell phones, but those who control the robots don’t want freedom inside. That’s where we come in. This talk will discuss how.


  • Eben Moglen
    Eben Moglen is executive director of the Software Freedom Law Center and professor of law and legal history at Columbia University Law School. He has represented many of the world’s leading free software developers. He earned his PhD in history and his law degree at Yale University during what he sometimes calls his “long, dark period” in New Haven. After law school, he clerked for Judge Edward Weinfeld of the United States District Court in New York City and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He has taught at Columbia Law School since 1987 and has held visiting appointments at Harvard University, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Virginia. In 2003, he was given the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award for efforts on behalf of freedom in the electronic society.


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