Chapter 2: Existing law and other forms of governance
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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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