Bruner on Artificially Intelligent Boards and the Future of Delaware Corporate Law

Christopher M. Bruner (University of Georgia School of Law) has posted “Artificially Intelligent Boards and the Future of Delaware Corporate Law” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The prospects for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to impact the development of Delaware corporate law are at once over- and under-stated. As a general matter, claims to the effect that AI systems might ultimately displace human directors not only exaggerate the foreseeable technological potential of these systems, but also tend to ignore doctrinal and institutional impediments intrinsic to Delaware’s competitive model – notably, heavy reliance on nuanced and context-specific applications of the fiduciary duty of loyalty by a true court of equity. At the same time, however, there are specific applications of AI systems that might not merely be accommodated by Delaware corporate law, but perhaps eventually required. Such an outcome would appear most plausible in the oversight context, where fiduciary loyalty has been interpreted to require good faith effort to adopt a reasonable compliance monitoring system, an approach driven by an implicit cost-benefit analysis that could lean decisively in favor of AI-based approaches in the foreseeable future.
This article discusses the prospects for AI to impact Delaware corporate law in both general and specific respects and evaluates their significance. Section II describes the current state of the technology and argues that AI systems are unlikely to develop to the point that they could displace the full range of functions performed by human boards in the foreseeable future. Section III, then, argues that even if the technology were to achieve more impressive results in the near-term than I anticipate, acceptance of non-human directors would likely be blunted by doctrinal and institutional structures that place equity at the very heart of Delaware corporate law. Section IV, however, suggests that there are nevertheless discrete areas within Delaware corporate law where reliance by human directors upon AI systems for assistance in board decision-making might not merely be accommodated, but eventually required. This appears particularly plausible in the oversight context, where fiduciary loyalty has become intrinsically linked with adoption of compliance monitoring systems that are themselves increasingly likely to incorporate AI technologies. Section V briefly concludes.

Case on Google, Big Data, & Antitrust

Megan Case (University of Maryland School of Law) has posted “Google, Big Data, & Antitrust” (Delaware Journal of Corporate Law (Vol. 46, Issue No. 2)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Google occupies a powerful position within the United States economy, a position which many have begun to consider too powerful. Google’s power is derived almost entirely from how it uses the billions of pieces of information it collects on its users—a collection of information known as big data. Since last October, five separate antitrust lawsuits have been filed against Google by multiple states and the Department of Justice. Several sweeping antitrust reform measures have also been proposed in Congress to target big tech companies.

This Article discusses the unique antitrust challenges posed by companies like Google and argues that those challenges can be addressed without a massive overhaul of antitrust law. In doing so, it builds on recent legal scholarship that advocates for more vigorous antitrust scrutiny of mergers and acquisitions and more aggressive treatment of exclusionary conduct by dominant firms. While this Article echoes such recommendations, it develops an added focus on the manner in which dominant firms use big data to properly diagnose the unique anticompetitive concerns raised by companies like Google. In order to successfully keep antitrust enforcement abreast the challenges of our growing digital economy, antitrust authorities must begin to emphasize the central role big data plays in today’s digital arena. This approach yields an important normative insight: the sweeping legislative reforms proposed under the guise of protecting competition in the digital age could have an opposite and chilling effect on competition and innovation.