Rights for Robots: How the Law Could Protect A.I. Over Humans

The following article was kindly provided to BAB by Portia Vincent-Kirby, Legal PA & Public Relations, Hudson McKenzie


What would happen if by granting Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) a ‘legal person’ status, the law eventually took sides with an artificial creation over a human being?
The European Commission (EC) recently refused the European Parliament (EP) request to grant Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), such as robots, an “electronic personality”, which would thus give A.I and therefore robots a legal personality.

This means that as a ‘legal person’, robots and A.I. would therefore have the same rights, duties and obligations as humans – creating an ultimate synchronization between humans and A.I altogether.

Although the reasonings for rejections of the EP’s proposal were based upon the nonsensical elements to granting A.I a status of equality with humans, how far is this really a ridiculous measure of the EP to have suggested? For instance, especially in the Western World, every human being is now likely to live side by side with technology and A.I. within their daily lives – whether it be their mobile phone, tablet or some other machinery that is now integral to a human’s everyday functioning.

Thus, as so much A.I. has now taken over the average human’s daily habits, to the point where most cannot live a day without using A.I., how long will it be before A.I and human beings are indistinguishable, leading to the necessity for A.I to be representative within law as a ‘legal person’?

Already, budding law students are being prompted to study coding as part of their law studies, with the increasing amount of A.I. being introduced into the legal arena – thus is by considering A.I. as a ‘legal person’ like a human being, simply the natural cause of events that are inevitable with the given rise of technology?

However at present, as under EU law only a Member State can determine who a ‘natural person’ is, could there be foreseeable amendments in the future in which A.I will be regarded as a ‘legal person’ when considered as a double to an already existing natural legal person (a human being), who is directly associated with the specific A.I. in question?

For example, as a ‘normal’ human being now inputs most of their daily lives onto A.I. such as their own mobile phone, could each A.I. user become a double ‘legal person’, in which their natural ‘legal person’ status is split between their ‘natural’ self and ‘artificial’ self from a legal perspective?

One of the possible foreseeable downfalls to this type of amendment could be that eventually the two double legal entities of one natural person may eventually merge back into one natural legal person, with the artificial side being synchronized completely into the human being.

Being so, this may ultimately cause vast legal complications, specifically regarding Human Rights, as A.I and humans become one within law, meaning that a human could potentially loose valuable Human Rights if a court goes in favour of an artificial legal entity instead.


If you would like to discuss this article further or have any general legal enquiries, please contact one of our highly qualified solicitors on 020 3318 5794 or via email at londoninfo@hudsonmckenzie.com