We hear a lot about AI and how it's going to change our lives – or even destroy them. How does the legal system deal with having AI integrated into our lives? Prof. Karen Eltis, a full Professor of Law (professeure titulaire) at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa and research associate at the Federmann Cyber Security Center – Cyber Law Program, says that cyberspace diminished or removed two main pillars of traditional law – territory and intermediaries. She also wants to dispel AI myths, saying “It’s like the Wizard of OZ and the man behind the curtain. AI is data-in, data-out, so it’s really the humans that tell the AI what to do. And the concern is we’re able to hide behind the AI”.
AI powered tech has different degrees of autonomy, depending on how involved the humans around it are – in, on or outside the loop. How do we control AI, or should we let it control us in some ways? “When people talk about AI, there are two visions that people see”, says Prof. Oren Gross, an Irving Younger Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and research associate at the Federmann Cyber Security Center – Cyber Law Program, with whom we discuss these questions. “If you're looking at the apocalyptic vision of Skynet or Terminator, then the answer is yes, we absolutely do not want to lose our humanity and to give machines decision making power. If we're thinking about R2D2 – as machines that will be complimentary to human beings, that may free us from some sorts of decision making and free us to make some other, maybe higher level, more abstract level, of decision making – that's not necessarily a bad thing”.
Is your fridge running? Better hurry and catch it, then, before it becomes sentient. As our electronic devices – not just the gadgety ones, but also the old fashioned ones, like the fridge, the vacuum cleaner and the personal assistant – become connected and so-called smart, what does it mean for product liability, and legal liability at large? “The independent intelligence makes it very difficult for us to assume that a human agent is behind certain acts or behaviours”, explains Dr. Omri Rachum-Twaig, an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv University and research fellow at the Federmann Cyber Security Center – Cyber Law Program. “Without agency, it would be very difficult to impose legal liability on human actors”.
Clips from The Wizard of Oz, Terminator, and Star Wars.
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