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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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Tort law approaches

Woodrow Barfield Ugo Pagallo


Within law, extra-contractual obligations or what common law lawyers have traditionally called tortious liability are generally obligations between private persons imposed by the government to compensate for damage done by wrongdoing. Much discussion within the legal community has focused on how to impose liability when the tortfeasor is an AI entity. Notwithstanding crucial distinctions between common law and civil law legal traditions, tort obligations can be grouped into three main categories – intentional torts, negligence-based torts, and strict liability.1

Starting with intentional torts, responsibility for tortious conduct falls on the person who has voluntarily performed the wrongful action prohibited by the law. With regard to negligence-based responsibility, negligence hinges on the notion of the reasonable person who fails to guard against foreseeable harm; in other words, damages are caused to others because of personal fault, such as lack of due care. Finally, in cases of strict liability, the law imposes responsibility regardless of the person’s intention or use of ordinary care, as occurs with employers’ vicarious responsibility for the behavior of their employees.

Against this traditional framework, the legal impact of AI technologies results in three levels of complexity for tort doctrine. First, the design, construction, and use of AI systems affect basic notions of tort law, such as the idea of the reasonable person guarding against foreseeable harm. We have mentioned in a previous chapter that AI systems are not simply “out-of-the-box” machines and that the reasonable person standard may have to be modified to account...

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