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Advanced Introduction to Law and Artificial Intelligence

Woodrow Barfield Ugo Pagallo

Woodrow Barfield and Ugo Pagallo present a succinct introduction to the legal issues related to the design and use of artificial intelligence (AI). Exploring human rights, constitutional law, data protection, criminal law, tort law, and intellectual property law, they consider the laws of a number of jurisdictions including the US, the European Union, Japan, and China, making reference to case law and statutes.
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Legal personality and artificial intelligence

Woodrow Barfield Ugo Pagallo


Scholars have been discussing the legal status of artificial agents, such as AI entities and robots, over the past decades.1 The advancements of AI technology, however, has resulted in an ideological debate concerning rights for AI. In 2017, for example, regarding AI-guided entities such as robots, the European Parliament adopted a proposal, in which the EU institution invited the European Commission:

to explore, analyze and consider the implications of all possible legal solutions, (including) … creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be considered having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently. (§59f of the document)

This opinion of the EU Parliament prompted a number of censures and objections, among which was the open letter of several “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Experts” in April 2018. As the letter claimed, “the creation of a Legal Status of an ‘electronic person’ for ‘autonomous,’ ‘unpredictable’ and ‘self-learning’ robots” – as the EU Parliament suggested in its 2017 resolution – should be discarded from both a technical perspective and a normative one, that is, from a legal and ethical, viewpoint.2 Later, on 25 April 2018, the EU Commission released its own document on “Artificial Intelligence: A European Approach to Boost Investment and Set Ethical Guidelines.”3 Remarkably, there was no reference in...

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