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SIRI-OUSLY 2.0: What Artificial Intelligence Reveals about the First Amendment

47 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2017 Last revised: 27 Sep 2017

Toni M. Massaro

University of Arizona College of Law

Helen L. Norton

University of Colorado School of Law

Margot E. Kaminski

University of Colorado Law School; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project; Yale University - Law School; University of Colorado at Boulder - Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship

Date Written: June 28, 2017

Abstract

The First Amendment may protect speech by strong Artificial Intelligence (AI). In this Article, we support this provocative claim by expanding on earlier work, addressing significant concerns and challenges, and suggesting potential paths forward.

This is not a claim about the state of technology. Whether strong AI — as-yet-hypothetical machines that can actually think — will ever come to exist remains far from clear. It is instead a claim that discussing AI speech sheds light on key features of prevailing First Amendment doctrine and theory, including the surprising lack of humanness at its core.

Courts and commentators wrestling with free speech problems increasingly focus not on protecting speakers as speakers but instead on providing value to listeners and constraining the government’s power. These approaches to free speech law support the extension of First Amendment coverage to expression regardless of its nontraditional source or form. First Amendment thinking and practice thus have developed in a manner that permits extensions of coverage in ways that may seem exceedingly odd, counterintuitive, and perhaps even dangerous. This is not a feature of the new technologies, but of free speech law.

The possibility that the First Amendment covers speech by strong AI need not, however, rob the First Amendment of a human focus. Instead, it might encourage greater clarification of and emphasis on expression's value to human listeners — and its potential harms — in First Amendment theory and doctrine. To contemplate — Siri-ously — the relationship between the First Amendment and AI speech invites critical analysis of the contours of current free speech law, as well as sharp thinking about free speech problems posed by the rise of AI.

Keywords: First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Speech Theory, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, Personhood, Computer Speech, Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Strong Artificial Intelligence, Machine Speech, Fundamental Rights, Autonomy, Theories of Rights

Suggested Citation

Massaro, Toni M. and Norton, Helen L. and Kaminski, Margot E., SIRI-OUSLY 2.0: What Artificial Intelligence Reveals about the First Amendment (June 28, 2017). 101 Minnesota Law Review 2481 (2017); Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 17-01; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 374; U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-3. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2896174

Toni Marie Massaro (Contact Author)

University of Arizona College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
520-626-2687 (Phone)
520-621-9140 (Fax)

Helen L. Norton

University of Colorado School of Law ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Margot E. Kaminski

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

University of Colorado at Boulder - Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship ( email )

Wolf Law Building
2450 Kittredge Loop Road
Boulder, CO
United States

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