European Commission Publishes Report on Liability for Artificial Intelligence
11/21/2019The New Technologies formation of the European Commission’s Expert Group on Liability and New Technologies has published a report on liability regimes for artificial intelligence. The report discusses existing laws concerning liability for emerging digital technologies and describes how those laws could be improved to cater for the new risks and challenges associated with new technologies. The New Technologies formation is a panel that was established by the European Commission in March 2018 and was asked to examine existing EU liability regimes and make recommendations for amendments to take account of emerging digital technologies where necessary.
The report observes that Member States generally do not have liability rules that apply specifically to damage resulting from emerging digital technologies, with the exception of rules relating to automated vehicles. Existing tort law regimes may be applied to such technologies, but as these regimes were not designed to cater for complicated artificial intelligence and other digital technologies, the adequacy of such rules may be questionable. We note that it seems questionable to conclude as such for common law systems, whose tort and other laws have been applied in case law to all sorts of technological innovations over the years. The report goes on to discuss the particular challenges of emerging digital technologies for liability law, for instance the complexity of new technologies and their related opacity, which means many users may not fully comprehend the processes that may cause harm. The increasing sophistication of artificial intelligence also makes it increasingly difficult to foresee the impact they will have once in operation. Liability regimes must therefore be amended to adapt to these new challenges.
Key proposed amendments include: (i) imposing strict liability regimes upon those operating emerging digital technologies that may cause significant harm; (ii) ensuring that users of technology who do not pose an increased risk of harm are still subject to duties to properly select, operate and monitor that technology; (iii) imposing liability upon manufacturers that cause damage through defects in any products or digital content they create that incorporate digital technology; and (iv) requiring users of technologies that expose third parties to an increased risk of harm to have compulsory liability insurance. The report finds that there is no need to give legal personality to emerging technologies for liability purposes, although it expressly does not take a position on company law and whether an artificially intelligent piece of technology could be permitted to act as a board member, for instance.
View the European Commission's report.
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