Of, for, and by the People: The Legal Lacuna of Synthetic Persons

25 Artificial Intelligence & L. 273 (2017)

University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 5/2018

20 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2017 Last revised: 9 Jan 2018

See all articles by Joanna Bryson

Joanna Bryson

Princeton University - Center for Information Technology Policy

Mihailis Diamantis

University of Iowa - College of Law

Thomas D. Grant

University of Cambridge - Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law

Date Written: September 8, 2017

Abstract

Conferring legal personhood on purely synthetic entities is a very real legal possibility, one under consideration presently by the European Union. We show here that such legislative action would be morally unnecessary and legally troublesome. While AI legal personhood may have some emotional or economic appeal, so do many superficially desirable hazards against which the law protects us. We review the utility and history of legal fictions of personhood, discussing salient precedents where such fictions resulted in abuse or incoherence. We conclude that difficulties in holding “electronic persons” accountable when they violate the rights of others outweigh the highly precarious moral interests that AI legal personhood might protect.

Keywords: Legal Personality, Artificial Intelligence, International Law

Suggested Citation

Bryson, Joanna and Diamantis, Mihailis and Grant, Thomas D., Of, for, and by the People: The Legal Lacuna of Synthetic Persons (September 8, 2017). 25 Artificial Intelligence & L. 273 (2017); University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 5/2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3068082

Joanna Bryson

Princeton University - Center for Information Technology Policy ( email )

C231A E-Quad
Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States

Mihailis Diamantis (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Thomas D. Grant

University of Cambridge - Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

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