Robot Law (New York: Edward Elgar, 2016) [Co-edited in equal proportion with Ryan Calo and A. Michael Froomkin]. 

This book recognizes the socially and economically transformative nature of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). It explores how the increasing sophistication and widespread deployment of these technologies everywhere from the home, to hospitals, public spaces, and the battlefield requires rethinking a wide variety of philosophical and public policy issues, interacts uneasily with existing legal regimes, and thus may counsel changes in policy and in law.

Dr. Kerr was among the very first scholars in the world to consider this subject. More than fifteen years before the subject matter became recognized as a distinct field of legal study, he urged that e-commerce and the broader technology law field would need to accommodate novel and unique scenarios generated by AI and robotics. His earlier works—“Spirits in the Material World: Intelligent Agents as Intermediaries in Electronic Commerce” (1999) 22 Dalhousie Law Journal 189-249 and “Bots, Babes and the Californication of Commerce” (2004) 1 Ottawa Law and Technology Journal 285-325—not only paved the way for a new field, they laid the foundations upon which many of today’s law and policy considerations in the field are based. For example, in A Legal Theory for Autonomous Artificial Agents, published by the University of Michigan Press in 2011, philosopher Samir Chopra and lawyer Laurence White devote an entire book to the subject of Dr. Kerr’s earlier proposals.

Robot Law is the first publication of its kind, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to provide a field-defining examination of robotics and AI law and policy. In addition to co-editing this volume, Dr. Kerr co-authored two of its chapters, both of which examine the legal and ethical implications of task-delegation to robots—one in the medical field, and the other in the context of international warfare. The volume collects the best work from the first two We Robot conferences co-convened by Dr. Kerr and his two US collaborators, Ryan Calo and Michael Froomkin. Together, Dr. Kerr and his colleagues have pioneered a new field of study with the annual We Robot conference and a growing corpus of literature of increasing international stature (Yale and Stanford made successful bids to host the conference and publish its outputs for the 6th and 7th annual events).

Robot Law has also made a substantial impact beyond academia. In addition to much private and public sector interest, the book has likewise inspired the social imaginary surrounding the ethics, law and policy of robots and AI. This was recently demonstrated when Popular Science featured the book on the cover page of its website. Published in 2016 year, the book has already had significant discussion on social media, in print media and on radio programs produced by the CBC and NPR.

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Lessons From The Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) [Co-edited in equal proportion with Valerie Steeves and Carole Lucock].

This volume integrates the work of philosophers, ethicists, feminists, cognitive scientists, lawyers, cryptographers, engineers, policy analysts, government policy makers and privacy experts, who collaborate on a wide range of topics including human implantable radio frequency identification chips, ubiquitous computing, predictive data-mining, selective self-presentation, gender identity, the societal impact of web-camming, national identity cards, the social value of privacy, the constitutional limits of privacy, the perceived tension between privacy and national security, and a five-country comparative study surveying the place of anonymity across the legal domain. Rather than comprising of typical individual or group contributions, the book was built on a collaborative approach integrating the entire 35 member author team, carried out over two years at three author workshops in Paris, Bologna, and Ottawa.

This book was one of six key volumes produced alongside more than 100 additional scholarly articles generated by Dr. Kerr and his research team as part of a four-year, four-million-dollar SSHRC-funded major collaborative research initiative known as “The ID Trail” project. One of the world’s most important scholars in privacy—Alan Westin, Professor of Public Law and Government at Columbia University and author of the seminal book in the field, Privacy and Freedom (1967)—described the work as follows: “Applying Identification tools to verify persons, protecting anonymity to foster various special communications, and working out appropriate balances among privacy, disclosure, and surveillance represent the core challenges of redefining and preserving liberty in an increasingly networked world. Ian Kerr and his colleagues have assembled an outstanding set of essays exploring these challenges in both their theoretical aspects and their many concrete settings, not only in Canada and the U.S. but also in the European arenas. I recommend this collection in the highest terms.” Former Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, described the book as “a remarkable undertaking ... as ambitious in scope as it has been striking in impact, [furnishing] unprecedented insights into a range of privacy issues.” The book’s five-country study received significant media attention from the CBC, National Post, Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, and the Vancouver Sun.

In addition to curating the contents, recruiting contributors and developing the methodology for collaboration, Dr. Kerr authored two chapters, co-authored a third and co-authored the introductory materials. His main substantive contributions in the volume pertain to (i) the conceptual analysis of privacy, identity and anonymity, (ii) the shifting methods of surveillance, (iii) issues of consent in an age of social networks, (iv) the regulation of radio frequency identification, (v) the regulation of human implantable devices, (vi) the development of privacy safeguards for ubiquitous computing environments, and (vii) the future of privacy law and policy.

These contributions set the stage for Dr. Kerr’s ongoing research on reforming the consent requirements in our privacy laws for automated and enhanced information collection environments, where obtaining consent is impossible or impractical. They also provided the content for a series of privacy workshops that Dr. Kerr designed and presented to 450 judges across Canada. These workshops produced an important journal article—“Emanations, Snoop Dogs and Reasonable Expectations of Privacy” (2007) 52:3 Criminal Law Quarterly 392-432 (co-authored by Jena McGill). This work was cited with approval by the SCC, adopting Dr. Kerr’s central thesis in one of Canada’s most important privacy decisions: R. v. A.M., [2008] 1 S.C.R. 569. Clarifying its previous jurisprudence with specific reference to Dr. Kerr’s article, the Supreme Court reversed the approach that had been adopted in dozens of lower court decisions across Canada during the past five years, favouring instead Dr. Kerr’s approach.

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Managing the Law: The Legal Aspects of Doing Business, 4th ed (Pearson Education: Toronto, 2013), [Co-authored by Mitchell McInnes and J. Anthony Vanduzer].

Managing the Law: The Legal Aspects of Doing Business aims to equip students with the conceptual tools and intellectual skills to identify, assess, and manage the legal risks that arise in the course of doing business. We aim to help students learn how “to think like successful business people.”

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