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The Law and Artificial Intelligence

Clive Anderson asks how our legal system will cope in a fast-approaching world of autonomous cars, care-bots and other artificially intelligent robots.

Clive Anderson ask how our legal system will cope in a fast-approaching world of autonomous cars, care-bots and other machines using artificial intelligence to make judgments normally made by humans.

What will be the legal implications of the use of robotics in healthcare - the introduction of care-bots that not only monitor patients' medical care, but carry meals, crack jokes and remind patients to take medication? Who will be sued for negligence if the care-bot malfunctions - the NHS, the doctor who delegated responsibility to the machine, the manufacturer of the machine or the software company?

The Government is currently changing laws to allow the testing of prototype autonomous self-driving vehicles on UK roads - how will these changes affect motorists? Who will be liable in the event of an accident? What happens if a car is hacked and taken over by a criminal third party? Who has access to data about the car's, and therefore the passenger's, movements?

The development in Japan of therapeutic robots looking like baby seals has raised questions about whether robots should be given human or animal form. What are the legal implications of having to separate a sick child from the malfunctioning robot with which he or she has bonded?

Can a super intelligent robot be legally accountable for the decisions it takes? Who has the intellectual property rights for the creative output of a robot? And can existing laws deal with all these issues or do we need major new legislation to deal with the robotic future?

Produced by Brian King
An Above The Title production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

43 minutes