Artificial Intelligence, Legal philosophy, Man / Machine, The man / machine series

Digital legal persons? Fragments (Man / Machine XI and Identity / Privacy III)

The following are notes ahead of a panel discussion this afternoon, where we will discuss the need for a legal structure for digital persons in the wake of the general discussion of artificial intelligence.  The idea of a digital assistant seems to suggest a world in which we will see new legal actors. These actors will buy, order, negotiate and represent us in different ways, and so will have a massive impact on the emerging legal landscape. How do we approach this in the best possible way? One strawman suggestion would be to propose a new legal construct in addition to natural and legal persons, people and companies, and introduce a new legal category for digital persons. The construct could be used to answer questions like: What actions can a digital person perform on behalf of another person and how is this defined in a structured way? How is the responsibility of the digital person divided of the 4 Aristotelian causes? Hardware error, software error, coder error and objective error all seem to suggest different responsible actors behind the digital person. Hardware manufacturers would be responsible for malfunction there, software producers for errors in software and coders for error that could not be seen as falling within the scope of the software companies — finally the one asking for the assistant to perform a task would have a responsibility for a clearly defined task and objective. In n-person interactions between digital persons with complex failures, who is then responsible? Is there a…

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