Ethical AI: The Role of Law and Regulation

13 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2021

Date Written: April 21, 2021


This uses the Australian example to offer a far broader critique of the prevailing trend globally of resorting to ethics-based frameworks as the principal modality for governing the responsible development and use of AI. It is critical of the relative paucity, in the context of this trend, of approaches with respect to governing private and corporate activity that are adequately and appropriately grounded in law and regulation. Section Two below charts the proliferation of ethical frameworks in this area. Section Three identifies the missing governance dimension in this approach: how is it envisaged that the broad ethical concepts or principles (e.g. ‘fairness’, ‘transparency’) advanced in prevailing frameworks are to be connected, if at all, to mechanisms for giving effect to those principles or for providing consequences for lack of adherence to these? What is at stake in the prevailing approach – why does it matter that this piece of the governance puzzle appears, for the most part, to be missing? Section Four explores some of the broad considerations that might shape policy choices on appropriate regulatory approaches.

Keywords: regulation, self-regulation, ethical AI, artificial intelligence, responsive regulation, risk-based regulation, principles-based regulation, governance, human rights, ethics

Suggested Citation

Ford, Jolyon, Ethical AI: The Role of Law and Regulation (April 21, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jolyon Ford (Contact Author)

ANU College of Law ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200


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