Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and the American Bar Association

Posted by K Krasnow Waterman on Tue, Oct 16, 2007 @ 17:10 PM

Elsewhere on this site, I've mentioned receiving the wonderful honor of being the first chair of an exciting new committee of the American Bar Association, the national association of lawyers in the US. The committtee will address the legal issues of “Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.” We're going to have a listserv, some form of online publications, and plan to co-host webinars, teleconferences, and possibly a conference.

New in the fall of 2007, the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Committee will address all aspects of law and devices that replicate or appear to replicate human mental or physical activity – learning, reasoning, communicating, manipulating objects, etc. The Committee’s activities will be divided into two broad topic categories:

1) Law about AI and Robotics – will track changes in statute, regulation, and case law about, or which specifically affect parties engaged in, artificial intelligence and robotics.

For example, one case has addressed whether a person offering a particular piece of software was offering an AI tool or practicing law without a license. We expect there will be cases about who owns the results of machine learning – the maker or the buyer – in both cases of advancement and liability. Similar questions will be asked about robotic prostheses which combine robotics and wearer impulses. As AI and robotics becomes more prevalent, we expect law-making bodies to seek to regulate these activities – or their results. Just as “corporate law” is a lens on the combination of contracts, torts, employment, and other topics in law, “AI & Robotics” will necessarily draw from intellectual property, privacy, contracts, liability, etc.

2) Use of AI and Robotics in legal activities – will address advances such as automated contract drafting and interpretation, compliance monitoring, and even law enforcement.

Although the use of robots in government may sound far-fetched to the general public, there are many efforts taking place in this arena. Just this week, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society in Boston is describing and demonstrating new robotics for inspecting marine structures. And, the same folks who make home vacuum cleaner robots are making bomb detection robots for the federal government.

As technology advances, the Committee will address the challenges posed by ever smarter and more-dexterous machines that can out-perform humans, or make decisions on behalf of humans. We expect that the committee will touch on areas related to privacy, medical treatment and healthcare, product liability, and perhaps more fleetingly, the question of ‘humanness’ in a

This Committee will provide assistance to those advising technology companies, incorporating new technologies into their practice, lawyers in technology roles, technologists building legal tools, cross-disciplinary professors, and those who just want to be ahead of the curve.

The homepage for the Committee is at:

You can subscribe to the listserv there (look for the small LISTSERV Lists box on the right side of the page below the Leadership box).

Topics: law about technology