The Co-evolution of Legal Responsibility and Technology
Chapter 7: Law-abiding machines and systems
The impasses discussed at the conclusions of Chapters 5 and 6 (as well as the simple desire to avoid liability) in part motivate the second strategy to close possible gaps between machines and harms caused by them: to reduce harm by designing autonomous machines and systems that “obey” the law. At this point, of course, autonomous technologies are not cognizant of the law and do not subjectively “appreciate” or “value” it; all we can do is program machines and systems to operate in ways that conform to the law. That challenge is daunting because of the nature of the law itself, but researchers are trying. As they do so, this raises issues as to who is competent to interpret the law. In this regard, work on using artificial intelligence in the practice of law sets an outer bound for how sophisticated machines and systems might be developed to take the law into account in their behaviors, although it is an open question whether we would want artificial technologies to have that level of legal sophistication. In any event, if designers succeed in developing machines and systems that comply with the law, we might find that they will set standards of care that humans will not be able to reach without the help of those very technologies.
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