JZ passed along this new paper out of Japan about criminal liability in the event that a robot “decides” to end a human life. Here’s the abstract:
In 1981, a 37-year-old Japanese employee of a motorcycle factory was killed by an artificial-intelligence robot working near him. The robot erroneously identified the employee as a threat to its mission, and calculated that the most efficient way to eliminate this threat was by pushing him into an adjacent operating machine. Using its very powerful hydraulic arm, the robot smashed the surprised worker into the operating machine, killing him instantly, and then resumed its duties with no one to interfere with its mission. Unfortunately, this is not science fiction, and the legal question is: Who is to be held liable for this killing?
Northwestern Law professor John McGinnis, meanwhile, recommends government sponsorship of “friendly AI’ in his recent essay on the dangers and promise of artificial intelligence. Here’s an excerpt:
The acceleration of technology can create unparalleled cascades of benefits as well as new risks of catastrophe. This acceleration could potentially endanger the future of the human race, but could also potentially radically extend the life span of individual humans. If such acceleration is the fundamental phenomenon of our age, the assessment of the consequences of technology is an essential task for society. As a result, the government has a particular interest in accelerating the one technology that may analyze the rest of technological acceleration—AI. The question of what degree and what form of support is warranted to boost the acceleration of this technology to help us with decisionmaking about the rest of accelerating is subtle and difficult. But that is the right question to ask, not whether we should retard its development with complex regulations, or still worse, relinquish it.
Still, for my money, the starting place is Lawrence Solum’s classic article Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligence and Sam Lehman-Wilzig’s 1992 essay Frankenstein Unbound.