Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy

56 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2017

Date Written: August 17, 2017


There is growing interest in the market potential of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and applications as well as in the potential risks that these technologies might pose. As a result, questions are being raised about the legal and regulatory governance of AI, machine learning, “autonomous” systems, and related robotic and data technologies. Fearing concerns about labor market effects, social inequality, and even physical harm, some have called for precautionary regulations that could have the effect of limiting AI development and deployment. In this paper, we recommend a different policy framework for AI technologies. At this nascent stage of AI technology development, we think a better case can be made for prudence, patience, and a continuing embrace of “permissionless innovation” as it pertains to modern digital technologies. Unless a compelling case can be made that a new invention will bring serious harm to society, innovation should be allowed to continue unabated, and problems, if they develop at all, can be addressed later.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, Robot, Robotics, Regulation, Permissionless Innovation, Innovation, Precautionary Principle, Algorithm, Algorithmic, Transparency, Privacy, Discrimination, Panic, Neural, Internet, Legal, Liability, Soft Law, Standards, Thierer

JEL Classification: O38, K20, K24

Suggested Citation

Thierer, Adam D. and Castillo O'Sullivan, Andrea and Russell, Raymond, Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy (August 17, 2017). Mercatus Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Adam D. Thierer (Contact Author)

R Street Institute ( email )

1050 17th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Raymond Russell


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