Legal Dispositionism and Artificially-Intelligent Attributions
forthcoming, Legal Studies
Singapore Management University School of Law Research Paper
37 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2023 Last revised: 6 Mar 2023
Date Written: September 28, 2022
It is often said that because an artificially-intelligent (AI) system acts autonomously, its makers cannot easily be faulted should the system’s actions harm. Since the system cannot be held liable on its own account either, existing laws expose victims to accountability gaps and require reform. Drawing on attribution theory, however, this article argues that the ‘autonomy’ that law tends to ascribe to AI is premised less on fact than science fiction. Specifically, the folk dispositionism which demonstrably underpins the legal discourse on AI liability, personality, publications, and inventions, leads us towards problematic legal outcomes. Examining the technology and terminology driving contemporary AI systems, the article contends that AI systems are better conceptualised as situational characters whose actions remain constrained by their programming, and that properly viewing AI as such illuminates how existing legal doctrines could be sensibly applied to AI. In this light, the article advances a framework for re-conceptualising AI.
Keywords: Artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, attribution theory, law and technology, law and psychology
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