Artificial Intelligence: The Personhood Conundrum

Artificial Intelligence and Law, ISBN 978-81-949395-1-1, February 2021

13 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2021

Date Written: February 1, 2021


Legal personality is inherently linked in individual autonomy but not exclusively accorded to people. AI is not recognised as legal entity by any law currently in force. But, together with Sophia, Saudi Arabia's humanoid national, and the recent accident caused by Uber's self-driving car, determining the legal personality of AI has become imperative.

Many researchers recently took the notion that the autonomy and ingenuity of AI systems contribute to its acceptance as autonomous legal bodies with a right to legal and economic rights and duties. In other words, scholars argue that the AI system is a separate entity that should and must be responsible for the consequences of its own acts or omissions. Two alternate premises may be based on this conclusion. First, they closely resemble humans in describing their attributes of being an AI – intelligence, reasoning, liberty, and independence. Thus, they should be regarded as separate, lawful bodies. Alternatively, AI are similar to corporations that are individual, non-human legal bodies with legal rights, benefits and obligations.

The question if legal personality can be granted to an AI lies in whether legal rights and duties can be subject to it. The legal fiction created for companies constitutes a precedent for AI to grant legal personality. There is, however, a difference between companies and AI as corporations are fictitiously independent, but they are accountable via their stakeholders.

Another question that emerges is the attribution of liabilities to the AI. The general rule is that an AI cannot be held accountable in its own capacity because it does not count as an entity. The greatest challenge to re-examining this law is the conundrum on how to penalise the AI for its misconduct, which was still unrealized.

A potential middle ground would be to give AI a selected collection of rights for legal persons. But specific steps are yet to be seen in this relation.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Personhood, Juristic Person, Personality

Suggested Citation

Chaudhary, Gyandeep, Artificial Intelligence: The Personhood Conundrum (February 1, 2021). Artificial Intelligence and Law, ISBN 978-81-949395-1-1, February 2021, Available at SSRN:

Gyandeep Chaudhary (Contact Author)

Indian Law Institute ( email )


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