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Artificial intelligence routed to gain juristic personality (Estonia)

30 October 2017 Adriaan Louw, Patrick Bracher, Norton Rose Fulbright
Adriaan Louw from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Adriaan Louw from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Patrick Bracher from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Patrick Bracher from Norton Rose Fulbright.

Estonia may become the first country in the world to grant artificial intelligence (AI) some form of juristic personality, giving robots personal rights and responsibilities.

This northern Baltic country’s Economy Ministry is currently working on legislation to elevate the status of robots using AI to more than that of an object. It is still unclear whether the legislation would ultimately elevate AI to the same judicial level as natural and legal persons.

Increased automation carries with it regulatory difficulties. The most common examples of this are the use of self-driving cars and drones. Countries like Estonia are attempting to prevent regulatory difficulties from hindering technological advancement and innovation. This balancing act also reached the European Parliament earlier this year which passed a resolution urging the European Commission to consider legislation and potential special status for AI robots, to establish who is liable for damages.

The question of liability offers a range of potential answers, from personal and producers, to service providers and government liability. Juristic personality, however, may allow for the eventual blameworthiness to lie with an algorithm.

Apple’s Siri should be careful when next she gets voice instructions wrong. She may soon have to pay for her blunders.

First published by Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot.

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