Marketplace interviews CIP’s Ryan Calo about drones and other emerging tech for COVID-19

May 7, 2020

Molly Wood of American Public Media’s Marketplace recently interviewed Ryan Calo, a Center for an Informed Public principal investigator, about aerial drones and other emerging technology that companies are touting for COVID-19 surveillance.

“The place I really think is problematic is trying to use drone technology coupled with artificial intelligence to try to figure out if people are far enough away from one another, or to try to figure out whether people are sick,” Calo, who is also an associate professor at the University of Washington’s School of Law and a faculty director at the Tech Policy Lab, told Wood. “While it might be technically lawful if you have the right license to do it, to use drones to keep people apart, that contributes to an already anxious environment. It can be a distraction, and especially I wouldn’t take it to surveillance.”

On drones that companies say can sense body temperatures, Calo said: “What these devices are detecting is unlikely, really, to correlate for what you’re looking for and is likely to lead to many false positives and negatives.”

Check out Calo’s Marketplace Q&A.

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