Howells & Twigg-Flesner on Interconnectivity and Liability: AI and the Internet of Things

Geraint Howells (University of Manchester) and Christian Twigg-Flesner (University of Warwick – School of Law) have posted “Interconnectivity and Liability: AI and the Internet of Things” (Larry di Matteo Artificial Intelligence: Global Perspectives on Law & Ethics, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we focus on the question of liability in circumstances where an IoT system has not performed as expected and where this has resulted in loss or damage of some kind. We will argue that the combination of AI and the IoT raises several novel aspects concerning the basis for assessing responsibility and of allocating liability for loss or damage, and that this will necessitate the development of a more creative approach to liability than generally followed in many legal systems. Most legal systems combine linear liability based on contractual relationships and fault-based or strict liability on a wrongdoer in tort law. We seek to demonstrate that this approach is no longer sufficient to deal with the complex issues associated with the interaction of AI and the IoT, and to offer possible solutions. Our discussion will proceed as follows: first, we will explain the nature of an IoT system in general terms, drawing on case studies from both the consumer and commercial sphere to illustrate this. We will then focus on the role of AI in the operation of an IoT system. Secondly, we will analyze the particular issues that arise in the circumstances where an AI-driven IoT system malfunctions and causes loss or damage, and the specific legal questions this raises. Third, we will examine to what extent legal systems (particularly the UK and the EU) are currently able to address these questions, and identify aspects that require action, whether in the form of legislation or some other intervention. Finally, we will propose an alternative for addressing the liability challenges arising in this particular context.