AI and the Law

Urs Gasser

While there is reasonable hope that superhuman killer robots won't catch us anytime soon, narrower types of AI-based technologies have started changing our daily lives: AI applications are rolled out at an accelerated pace in schools, homes, and hospitals, with digital leaders such as high tech, telecom, and financial services among the early adopters. AI promises enormous benefits for the social good and can improve human well-being, safety, and productivity, as anecdotal evidence suggests. But it also poses significant risks for workers, developers, firms, and governments alike, and we as a society are only beginning to understand the ethical, legal, and regulatory challenges associated with AI, as well as develop appropriate governance models and responses.

In this reading group, we will address emerging ethical, legal, and governance questions triggered by AI. What can we expect from the legal system as we deal with both the risks and benefits of AI-based applications? How can (and should) the law approach the multi-faceted AI phenomenon? How can we prioritize among the many emerging legal and regulatory issues, and what tools are available in the toolbox of lawmakers and regulators? How might the law deal with the (potentially distributed) nature of AI applications? More fundamentally, what is the relevance of the law vis-a-vis a powerful technology such as AI? What can we learn from past cycles of technological innovation as we approach these questions? How does law interact with other forms of governance? How important is the rule of law in a time where AI starts to embrace the law itself? How can we build a learning legal system and measure progress over time? What is the role of ethics?

No specific technical or legal knowledge is required. Students will be invited to propose (short) readings and interesting stories for in-class discussion.

Organizational meeting: Thursday, September 13, 12:00-1:00pm, Berkman Klein Center Conference Room, 23 Everett Street, 2nd Floor