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Monday, December 7, 2020

Artificial Intelligence and Legal Disruption: A New Model for Analysis

Hin-Yan Liu,  et .al (2020) 
Law, Innovation and Technology, 
12:2, 205-258
DOI: 10.1080/17579961.2020.1815402


Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly expected to disrupt the ordinary functioning of society. From how we fight wars or govern society, to how we work and play, and from how we create to how we teach and learn, there is almost no field of human activity which is believed to be entirely immune from the impact of this emerging technology. This poses a multifaceted problem when it comes to designing and understanding regulatory responses to AI. This article aims to: (i) defend the need for a novel conceptual model for understanding the systemic legal disruption caused by new technologies such as AI; (ii) to situate this model in relation to preceding debates about the interaction of regulation with new technologies (particularly the ‘cyberlaw’ and ‘robolaw’ debates); and (iii) to set out a detailed model for understanding the legal disruption precipitated by AI, examining both pathways stemming from new affordances that can give rise to a regulatory ‘disruptive moment’, as well as the Legal Development, Displacement or Destruction that can ensue. The article proposes that this model of legal disruption can be broadly generalisable to understanding the legal effects and challenges of other emerging technologies.

From Concluding Thoughts

As artificial intelligence is often claimed to be an exponential technology, and law progresses incrementally in a linear fashion, there is bound to be a point at which the exponential take off crosses the straight line if these assumptions hold. Everything to the left of this intersection, where AI is below the line, is where hype about the technology does not quite live up to expectations and is generally disappointing in terms of functioning and capability. To the right of this intersection, however, the previously dull technology takes on a surprising and startling tone as it rapidly outpaces both predictions about its capacities and collective abilities to contextualise, accommodate or situate it. It is widely claimed that we are now nearing this intersection. If these claims hold up, the law is one of the institutions that stands to be shocked by the rapid progression and incorporation of AI into society. If this is right, then it is important to start projecting forward in an attempt to minimise the gap between exponential technologies and linear expectations. The legal disruption framework we have presented does exactly this. Furthermore, even if these claims turn out to be misguided, thinking though such transformations sheds different light upon the legal enterprise which hopes to illuminate the entire law.