Law and Autonomous Machines
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Law and Autonomous Machines

The Co-evolution of Legal Responsibility and Technology

Mark Chinen

This book sets out a possible trajectory for the co-development of legal responsibility on the one hand and artificial intelligence and the machines and systems driven by it on the other. As autonomous technologies become more sophisticated it will be harder to attribute harms caused by them to the humans who design or work with them. This will put pressure on legal responsibility and autonomous technologies to co-evolve. Mark Chinen illustrates how these factors strengthen incentives to develop even more advanced systems, which in turn strengthens nascent calls to grant legal and moral status to autonomous machines. This book is a valuable resource for scholars and practitioners of legal doctrine, ethics, and autonomous technologies.
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Chapter 2: Existing law and other forms of governance

Mark Chinen


Over the past several years, legal scholars have engaged in detailed applications of current legal doctrines to problems that are expected to arise when autonomous technology is subjected to the legal doctrines of torts, negligence and products liability, strict liability, privacy, contract, and the law of war. How well current law is poised to address harms caused by autonomous machines and systems falls along a range that depends in part on the sophistication of machines, the degree of human control over them, and the kind of harm involved. However, as autonomous technologies grow more sophisticated, a point is reached under our common understanding of explanation and blame where it becomes at least as plausible to say that the machines and systems themselves are at least partly liable for any harms they cause as it is to say that human beings associated with them are responsible. There are of course other ways to address harms, primarily through forms of governance that range from private ordering to direct legislation and regulation, but each of them has their strengths and weaknesses.

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