Understanding Society

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TILT seminar by Eliza Mik

Topic: Does AI Require New Laws? An (incomplete) Private Law Perspective


Legal articles on AI usually commence with a preamble describing its (purported) revolutionary impact on nearly all areas of commerce and social practice. We are, after all, in the middle of another “AI summer.” It is also commonplace to indiscriminately assume that technological progress must be accompanied by new laws and regulations. Unsurprisingly, advancements in AI result in recurring suggestions to emancipate the AI-based system - be it as a symbolic recognition of its sophistication (robot rights!?) or as a method of shielding its human operator from liability for its malfunctions and emergent behaviors. Taking a skeptical point of departure and analyzing the potential problems from the perspective of transaction automation, I ask a number of seemingly simple questions. Is there a threshold in technological advancement the passing of which triggers the need to separate the AI from its human operators and change the liability allocation for its deployment? What would be the criteria of such separation? Is it the complexity of the algorithm, the type of delegated task or the degree to which the original human decision becomes dis-associated from the final output produced by the AI? Does the human operator remain liable if, after initiation, the AI need not receive any further human input? Could or should the AI ever be liable? Who really deserves protection – the operator of the AI or the person interacting with it? The presentation aims to solicit a constructive critique of some initial findings. The broad assumption is that, technological sophistication aside, any regulatory efforts must be preceded by a diagnosis and classification of the actual legal problems created by AI in specific commercial contexts. The next step should be an evaluation whether such problems (if any) can be addressed by existing legal instruments and principles. 


In parallel with a line of research focused on distributed ledger technologies and smart contracts, I am involved in multiple projects relating to the legal implications of automation, the deployment of ‘intelligent agents’ in retail environments as well as the transactional imbalances created by the use of consumer-facing technologies, such as predictive analytics and AI. Before joining academia, I have worked in-house in a number of software companies, Internet start-ups and telecommunication providers in Australia, Poland, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. I advised on e-commerce, payment systems, software licensing and technology procurement.

Registration is free, but please register via Ghislaine van den Maagdenberg: g.vdnmaagdenberg@tilburguniversity.edu

Location: M 1003

When: 25 September 2018 13:00

End date: 25 September 2018 14:30