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 3: Individual responsibility

Mark Chinen


As autonomous technologies are involved in harms, there could be increasing pressure to hold a larger number of people responsible for such harms. To the extent that currently existing law fails to adequately address harms caused by autonomous technologies, one reason is that the law tends to avoid responsibility by association. The legal doctrines used to frame and address harms are informed almost exclusively by the paradigm of the responsible human individual, so that even when the law purports to encompass groups of people, including business entities, the analysis tends to be framed in individualistic terms. This dovetails with generally accepted understandings of moral responsibility, which can be traced from Aristotle to the present day. This influence is felt in the legal concepts such as culpability, foreseeability, and causation. The stress on individual responsibility and the strong tie to ethics raise questions about how well legal responsibility based on personal culpability will fare when it is applied to technology with high degrees of autonomy.

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