Artificial Intelligence: The Importance of Trust & Distrust

Green Bag, Vol. 21, no. 3 (2018)

13 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2018 Last revised: 28 Apr 2019

Date Written: February 1, 2018


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is percolating through modern society. Just as technology made the leap from analog to digital, and communications catapulted forward from rotary dial telephones to smartphones, FaceTime, and WhatsApp, AI has gone from needing hundreds of square feet of computers for the task of playing chess to identifying faces with a thumbnail of silicon. Most important, one cannot overemphasize the speed at which we are hurtling towards a world in which AI will be ubiquitous, seeping into every corner of what we do.

As AI becomes part of our everyday life, a key aspect will be the way in which society—and by extension, the legal system—manages both the integration of these systems and society’s expectations. In this context, this essay suggests that the concepts of trust and distrust will be critical for navigating the road ahead, particularly if we want to avoid societal unrest and upheaval. We will have to learn to trust the capacity of AI systems sufficiently so that we can soar to new heights without succumbing to the irrational exuberance that can send us crashing to the ground when our hopes are dashed by its inability to live up to our blind expectations. And we must learn to tolerate the ambiguity that lies between these two extremes. To accomplish these goals, this essay suggests three general principles that should form the basis of the legal regimes—both regulatory and property—that will be necessary for AI.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence

Suggested Citation

Feldman, Robin, Artificial Intelligence: The Importance of Trust & Distrust (February 1, 2018). Green Bag, Vol. 21, no. 3 (2018), Available at SSRN: or

Robin Feldman (Contact Author)

UC Law, San Francisco ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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