The challenge of AI
What should you do in a world where AI and robots increasingly play a role? We asked alumnus Hub Dohmen for tips. As a technician, he studied law in Tilburg and has been a lawyer since his graduation in 1988. During his studies, he specialized in IT law and intellectual property. He regularly writes articles on technology and law and is a much sought-after speaker. The field of tension between technology and law drives him. Dohmen likes to share his tips and his drives.
A fair application of technology, creation, and innovation makes the world a better place
In 2003, after years of experience and deepening, Hub Dohmen founded his super-specialized law firm with. on the one hand, experts in technology/IT, design, and art, specializing in intellectual property/IP (patents, models, trademarks, copyright, design, art, trade names) and IT and technical issues on the other.
He is also co-founder of the NVAIR Nederlandse Vereniging voor Artificiële Intelligentie- en Robotrecht (NVAIR Dutch Association for Artificial Intelligence and Robot Law), which was founded in 2018. The association stimulates a future-proof development of AI and robot law from a multidisciplinary perspective. Members come from the Dutch and Flemish sectors of law, ICT, media, research, and education. Students are also part of both the members and the board. And new members are welcome. The association is characterized by a light scientific approach. During the first meeting of the NVAIR, Dohmen defended a robot in a mock summary proceedings.
Tip 1: Get integrated, do your research and participate in this development
"Take charge so you can still steer. If you lag behind, you cannot see anything, blinded by the dust and you'll be dragged along without any influence on the direction. This development has a huge influence on society and, as a human being, you have an obligation not to stand on the sidelines. Your sharpness and positive critical gaze must be put at the service of your fellow humans. Prevent yourself from later regretting what others have made of it.”
Short-circuit as fuel
"Everything I do is based on the deep conviction that fair application of technology, creation, and innovation makes the world a better place. AI and robotics are pre-eminently innovative techniques. I want to be there and contribute to that as a lawyer. Originally, I was a technician and after my part-time law studies those worlds came together for me. In short, lawyers have been trained to think from what is not possible; technicians think from what is possible. I'm constantly in between. Those ways of thinking are almost diametrically opposed to each other and I love being in that short-circuit. That keeps me awake and in motion. Sometimes that's frustrating, depending on who you're talking to, but it's still challenging and that drives me."
Tip 2: Involve children in modern technology as early as possible
"Familiarize children with these issues as early as possible so that they grow up to be people who can implement or execute tip 1. They can then take up the steering role much better. Do this in the right way, adapted to their age. Learning by trial and error is more difficult if you haven't experienced this from an early age".
Tip 3: Ask questions, form an opinion but do not judge
And adjust it constantly
"Ask questions about everything that happens in society. Form an opinion about everything and adjust it constantly. But beware, an opinion is not a judgment. Because after judgement has taken place, no more questions are asked. That happens too often and bothers us, especially in social media. Therefore, postpone judgement until eternity. That is a general tip that applies to everything, but because technological developments are so rapid, it is especially applicable here."
Threat from AI
"AI's threat is a major driver of questions from businesses, lawyers, and consumers. And there are plenty of such threats. But you have to see how you can make them manageable. The challenge is to have sufficient knowledge and insight to understand what you can legally do with it and what you can do about it. If you do not have enough knowledge and insight in technology, you cannot work with it from a legal perspective. Then you cannot take stock of the risks, but you cannot see the opportunities either. You have to be able to see both. That also applies to policymakers."
Tip 4: Ensure that governments and politicians have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of AI, (big) data, algorithms, and robotics
Knowledge is present where policy is made
"If you ensure that knowledge is present where policy is made and controlled, then the essential decisions are made in the democratic process and not by market players like the Googles and Amazons".
Missed the boat
"The way social media are set up now grates on all sides. We did not get there in time. The market players have had far too much influence here. That goes far beyond the protection of personal data, of sensitive data. We missed that boat. Now we can take the edges off it, polish up the nooks and crannies. But it is an irreversible process now. If we had taken a critical look in good time, we would have ensured the protection of personal data “by design,” for example. Safety would have been built in as the quality of the systems. We'll never be able to get a second chance."
Do robots have rights?
"The question of whether robots have rights was the start of the NVAIR, the Dutch Association for Artificial Intelligence and Robot Law. There is a lot of resistance against that idea. But it is not strange to ask that question. Certainly not now that even your fridge can be filled by the online supermarket. That degree of autonomy is an important criterion. But if you want something about it legally, you'll have to define it. Nor can you say in black and white that a robot does or does not have rights. The question is: what kind of robot has what rights? By the way, we are looking for experts from all disciplines and certainly also students who want to contribute and learn by becoming a member".
Tip 5: Respect your mother and father!
"Hopefully, my kids will read this and then I hope they take these tips to heart. Respect is mutual. So you can make sure that your parents or children keep asking questions as well."
"For me, the university is really my “alma mater”—my nurturing mother, where my fire was lit for scientific thought. From that moment on, I could not help but know that scientific thinking exists. At the time, it was like a fish jumping out of the water for the first time: from that moment on, he will never be able to not know that there is water and not water. That is why I have given guest lectures for many years, I still regularly attend courses and lectures and I participate in the mentoring program in which I am available to students."
Date of publication: 25 August 2020