Laws and future of Artificial
Intelligence (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Artificial Intelligence
Mains level: Artificial Intelligence challenges and laws if disputes arises
In February, the Kerala police inducted a robot for police work.
The same month, Chennai got its second robot-themed restaurant,
where robots not only serve as waiters but also interact with customers in
English and Tamil.
In Ahmedabad, in December 2018, a cardiologist performed the
world’s first in-human telerobotic coronary intervention on a patient nearly
32 km away.
All these examples symbolise the arrival of Artificial
Intelligence (AI) in our everyday lives.
Questioning the capability of AI systems
But the capability of AI systems to learn from experience and to
perform autonomously for humans makes AI the most disruptive and
self-transformative technology of the 21st century.
If AI is not regulated properly, it is bound to have unmanageable
Imagine, for instance, that electricity supply suddenly stops
while a robot is performing a surgery, and access to a doctor is lost?
And what if a drone hits a human being? These questions have
already confronted courts in the U.S. and Germany.
All countries, including India, need to be legally prepared to
face such kind of disruptive technology.
Challenges of AI
Predicting and analysing legal issues and their solutions,
however, is not that simple. For instance, criminal law is going to face
What if an AI-based driverless car gets into an accident that
causes harm to humans or damages property?
Who should the courts hold liable for the same?
Can AI be thought to have knowingly or carelessly caused bodily
injury to another?
Can robots act as a witness or as a tool for committing various
Evolution of AI
Except for Isaac Asimov’s ‘three laws of robotics’ discussed in
his short story, ‘Runaround’, published in 1942, only recently has there
been interest across the world to develop a law on smart technologies.
In the U.S., there is a lot of discussion about regulation of AI.
Germany has come up with ethical rules for autonomous vehicles stipulating
that human life should always have priority over property or animal life.
China, Japan and Korea are following Germany in developing a law
on self-driven cars.
In India, NITI Aayog released a policy paper, ‘National Strategy
for Artificial Intelligence’, in June 2018, which considered the importance
of AI in different sectors.
The Budget 2019 also proposed to launch a national programme on
While all these developments are taking place on the technological
front, no comprehensive legislation to regulate this growing industry has
been formulated in the country till date.
Legal personality of AI
We need a legal definition of AI.
Also, given the importance of intention in India’s criminal law
jurisprudence, it is essential to establish the legal personality of AI and
whether any sort of intention can be attributed to it.
Since AI is considered to be inanimate, a strict liability scheme
that holds the producer or manufacturer of the product liable for harm,
regardless of the fault, might be an approach to consider.
Since privacy is a fundamental right, certain rules to regulate
the usage of data possessed by an AI entity should be framed as part of the
Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018.
Traffic accidents lead to about 400 deaths a day in India, 90% of
which are caused by preventable human errors.
Autonomous vehicles that rely on AI can reduce this significantly,
through smart warnings and preventive and defensive techniques.
Patients sometimes die due to non-availability of specialised
doctors. AI can reduce the distance between patients and doctors.
But as futurist Gray Scott says, “The real question is, when will
we draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights? What will that consist
of? And who will get to decide that?”
Q1. The term 'Neonicotinoids' is sometimes seen in news in the context of (a) Class of insecticides chemically related to nicotine.
(b) New active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) to combat antimicrobial
(c) Toxic pollutants produced due to the burning of crop stubble.
(d) Environment friendly pesticides which avoid colony collapse disorder in
Q1. AI-driven tech will become counterproductive if a legal framework is
not devised to regulate it. Comment.