AI Law and Ethics: The Challenge of AI Wrongdoing

The aim of this project is to examine how the frameworks we currently use to think about responsibility towards others—including concepts such as harm, wrongdoing, fault, causation, redress, and blame—apply in a world where artificial intelligence technologies (AI) play a major role in making decisions, evaluating choices, and determining courses of action.  Much of the evaluative apparatus we use to think about wrongdoing, responsibility and redress assume that decisions are made by human actors embedded in social and institutional contexts. 

The rise of AI—and, in particular, autonomous and semi-autonomous systems—challenges this assumption, and raises serious issues in relation to the adequacy of frameworks based on it.  How, for example, do we deal with an AI that displays predilections which, in a human, would be racist—as studies in the US suggest some predictive systems used in making parole decisions are actually doing?  In technical terms, how do we create systems to detect and monitor such behaviour?  In ethical terms, are categories such as ‘racism’ useful ways of thinking about stochastic decision-making processes that differ fundamentally from evaluative processes in humans?  In legal terms, how do we translate these into the language of legal rules and doctrines, and deal with their relationship with existing legal frameworks?

Similar issues also arise in relation to how we think about redress.  There are a range of frameworks—prophylactic, risk management, harm mitigation, laissez-faire, externalities-oriented, etc.—that one might use for thinking about the problem of redressing harm caused by AI wrongdoing.  Yet there has been no systematic study of which of these we should use, on what basis we should choose between them, what their strengths and weaknesses are, or what challenges might be posed in adapting legal frameworks to deal with AI. 

The proposed project will assemble an interdisciplinary team—computer scientists, ethicists, philosophers, lawyers, criminologists, and sociologists—to develop a programme for innovative, high-impact, funded research on this issue. 

Lead Academic at Lead University

Phillip Morgan York Law School, University of York

Lead Academics at Other Universities

Vincent Müller Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre, University of Leeds

Helen Kennedy Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Other members of Staff Associated with this Project

TT Arvind York Law School, University of York

John McDermid OBE Department of Computer Science/AAIP, University of York

Ailbhe O’Loughlin York Law School, University of York 

David Beer Department of Sociology, University of York 

Alex Hall Department of Politics, University of York 

Ibrahim Habli Department of Computer Science/AAIP, University of York

Isra Black York Law School, University of York

David Efird Department of Philosophy, University of York

Zoe Porter Department of Philosophy, University of York

Cade McCall Department of Psychology ,University of York

Dimitris Tsarapatsanis School of Law, University of York 

Mark Davis Department of Sociology, University of Leeds 

Jamie Dow Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre, University of Leeds

Chris Megone Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre, University of Leeds

Carl Fox Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied Centre, University of Leeds

Vania Dimitrova Department of Computer Science, University of Leeds

Rob Richardson Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds

Xavier D L’Hoiry Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Gwilym Pryce Sheffield Methods Institute, University of Sheffield

James Law  Sheffield Robotics, University of Sheffield

Nathan Hughes Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Mauricio Álvarez Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield

Noel Sharkey Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield

Amanda Sharkey Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield

Keith Frankish Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield

Paul Martin, iHuman Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Stevienna de Saille, iHuman Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Ross Bellaby Department of Politics, University of Sheffield

Dan Goodley School of Education, University of Sheffield

Annamaria Carusi Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease, University of Sheffield 

Michael Szollosy Sheffield Robotics, University of Sheffield

Jonathan Aitken Department of Automatic Control & Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield,

Jo Bates Information School, University of Sheffield