Colleagues Honor Ian Kerr

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on October 14, 2019

Professor Ian Kerr
Image from the Centre for Law, Technology and Society, University of Ottawa
The staff at TAP were greatly saddened to hear of Professor Ian Kerr’s passing at the end of August 2019.  We offer this post honoring Professor Kerr in order to express the depth of our feelings at the passing of such a brilliant scholar who was also renowned for his kindness.

Professor Kerr was a highly regarded scholar of law, technology, and philosophy. At the time of his death, he was the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. Additionally, he held cross appointments to the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Philosophy, and School of Information Studies.

Along with Ryan Calo (University of Washington School of Law) and Michael Froomkin (University of Miami School of Law), Professor Kerr founded We Robot in 2012. We Robot is the annual gathering of academics, policy makers, roboticists, economists, ethicists, entrepreneurs, and lawyers who care about robots and the future of robot law and policy. “That event has since become the leading conference of its kind, resulting in ground-breaking scholarship and a generation of new scholars in the robotics law field. It was one of Ian’s proudest achievements that We Robot will come to Ottawa for the first time next year.” (from Michael Geist, "In Memoriam: My Dear Friend and Colleague Ian Kerr")

One of Professor Kerr’s recent works is Robot Law (co-edited with Ryan Calo and Michael Froomkin, Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., 2016). This book focuses on legal and ethical implications of artificial intelligence, robotics, and implantable devices. Robot Law has received critical acclaim, such as: “With this volume robot law establishes its place as a field that deserves serious attention.” (Wendell Wallach, Chair of the Technology and Ethics study group, Yale University) Also: “The timing of Robot Law is perfect. If law is going to catch up with technology, it's going to need this book.” (Patrick Lin, Director of the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group, based at California Polytechnic State University)

Numerous colleagues have paid tribute to Professor Kerr since his passing. Below are a just a few of the tributes that express how deeply his friendship, mentoring, scholarship, and zest for life are missed.

The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 24: A Tribute to Ian Kerr – by Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, University of Ottawa

The first episode of the new season of the Lawbytes podcast is dedicated to my good friend and colleague Ian Kerr, a giant in the law and technology field. It features five clips that each call attention to [his] different strengths.

In Memoriam: My Dear Friend and Colleague Ian Kerr – also by Michael Geist

He [Ian Kerr] was a prescient scholar who proposed the title of Canada Research Chair in Law, Ethics, and Technology years before the ethical implications of technologies would emerge as a widespread societal issue.

Remembering Ian Kerr – JOTWELL

The Jotwell site published a memorial symposium in Professor Kerr’s honor. It consists of short reviews of a selection of Ian’s scholarship, written by a range of scholars who are grateful for his many contributions, both on and off the page.

Below are selected reviews, written by TAP scholars, who had the pleasure of collaborating with Professor Kerr.

From the TAP site, we extend our deepest condolences to Professor Kerr’s family, friends, and colleagues.