CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Hu on Robot Criminals

Ying Hu has posted Robot Criminal Liability Revisited (Dangerous Ideas in Law, Jin Soo Yoon, Sang Hoon Han, and Seong Jo Ahn (eds.), Chapter 26, 494-509 (South Korea: Bobmunsa, 2018)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Imagine the following scenario. A robot doctor is equipped with complex algorithms that weigh the costs and benefits of each medical procedure in order to maximize the benefit of its patients. One day, the doctor deliberately withholds resuscitation from a dying patient, John, against his and his family’s wishes. The robot doctor reasons, if it resuscitates John as requested, there is only a 0.1% chance that he might live for another week. In the meantime, John has to endure a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. On the other hand, if John dies, his organs can be harvested to save the lives of at least three people. On balance, the robot doctor concludes, the benefits of withholding treatment outweighs the costs. John’s family are infuriated by the robot doctor’s inaction. But do they have any grounds for accusing the doctor of criminal negligence or even murder?

Questions like this are likely to arise with greater frequency as scientists continue to make breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics. As robots start to perform roles that are traditionally occupied solely by humans, there is increasing urgency to clarify their legal status. Legal principles, however, rarely change overnight. Rather, they evolve in an incremental manner over time. When faced with novel scenario, lawyers and judges often try to analogize it to existing, familiar scenarios to determine whether current laws and regulations can be applied to that scenario. In a similar spirit, we will consider four possible analogies: robots as products, robots as animals, robots as corporations, and robots as humans.

| Permalink


Post a comment