Special Issue on Legal, Ethical, and Policy Issues Associated with Wearable Computers, Virtual Environments, and Computer Mediated Reality

Guest Editors: Woodrow Barfield, Steve Mann, Ian Kerr, and Rita Lauria

PRESENCE, published by the MIT Press, is the first journal for serious investigators of teleoperators and virtual environments, incorporating perspectives from physics to philosophy.

Recent advances in the technologies associated with the development of wearable computing, virtual environments, and mediated (augmented, diminished, or otherwise computer-modified) realities have led to interesting legal, policy, and ethical issues. As evidence of the emerging interest in this area, the term "cyborglaw" has already appeared in numerous events, workshops, and symposia.

Questions of interest for the special edition include:=A0 Should an artificially intelligent system represented within a virtual environment by an avatar be afforded the rights of legal personhood, be able to contract, or be liable for errors, in the same way as humans or abstract entities such as corporations that already enjoy such rights? Are the legal, ethical, or policy issues different when the intelligence arises through having a human being in the feedback loop of a computational process, i.e. as with Humanistic Intelligence (HI)?=A0 Should humans that wear computing (sometimes termed cyborgs, or cybernetic organisms) be recognized as legal entities, and afforded special protections like those who wear prosthesis? What liabilities should be incurred by those who disrupt the functioning of a person's prosthesis or wearable computer?

Papers that discuss and describe current legal, policy, and ethical issues and case law associated with technology in the design and use of wearable computing, virtual and mediated (augmented/dimensioned/modified) reality environments, are especially sought. Topics include, but are not limited to:

Submission Deadline: July 15, 2003.

Original manuscripts (anonymous .pdf) should be emailed to They should conform to the submission guidelines available at

Contact Information: