Ritika Sharma explores the legal ramifications of a world dominated by artificial intelligence

Technology is changing the world around us with increasing rapidity. New technologies are being incorporated more and more into our daily lives. Computer programs, algorithms and robots are replacing simple human activities. And artificial intelligence (AI) lies on the cutting edge of the technological spectrum in the industry today. Simply put, AI is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent behaviour. The era of AI has begun, whether we like it or not.

Computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term “artificial intelligence” at a Dartmouth Conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, defining AI as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable. It’s an umbrella term that refers to information systems inspired by biological systems, and encompasses multiple technologies including machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, natural language processing, machine reasoning, and strong AI.

Is AI regulated?

AI is poised to have a transformative effect on numerous industries, and is already permeating through all aspects of society, and in our everyday lives. AI adoption is so widespread that hardly any sector or industry is untouched, from education, healthcare, transportation, defence and security, and virtual reality to decision making and policy making.

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Ritika Sharma is manager (M&A) – legal at Cipla.


  1. Went through your article. Few points to ponder.

    1. AI is not something which makes computer bigger than or beyond the control of mankind. Its created and still controlled by humans only. The term ” Machine Learning” is a new epithet for what is conventionally called ” self evolving”. By feeding more and more data, information and logical functions into a machine it can be made to become self evolving OR what the new age generation says “Machine learning”.
    2. Because AI will not become a master to win over the universe (mankind) it still stays in some sort of Master slave configuration Or so to say Principle-Client relationship. Very clearly in such a case the indirect or Vicarious liability for the client will lie on the principle or that of a slave on the master. No new legislation is envisaged for such a creation.
    3. Now coming to the term “Legal person” as the Robot Sophia in Saudi has been christened and has been given citizenship. A duly incorporated company is also a legal person or a juristic person having its own entity, rights and liabilities. And we have Laws for that in Company law and various other Acts. The status of A machine under AI and a incorporated company is same both being Legal person. Just as the company law puts liability on Directors of the company for various liabilities of the company similarly the owner(s) of a machine/system with AI can be made responsible/accountable/liable. Its wrong to construe AI as a fired missile no longer in control of the firing hands. No absolutely not. In your example of auto driven car on AI if it commits some accident then surely the liability should lie with the owning company or the individual owning it. After all we are not producing AI machines to have a place of their own in the society leaving them to become their own masters or sovereign machine men. They will at best be juristic persons not humans.
    4. A more dangerous and concerning issue is of producing designer babies through genetic engineering. AI is nothing before it. Genetic engineering and causing to make tailor made babies will ACTUALLY need appropriate legal handling. That is the most worrying technological development that needs Jurisprudence and yet the world is not able to find a proper legal framework to look at it. AI is a small fry in the pan before this issue.
    AI, in my opinion, does not need a separate Law since it is not something beyond the control of its master (human). As in case of other legal persons (such as a company or a robot) AI can be seen from that angle and can be properly handled in the existing legal framework and jurisprudence.

  2. Brilliant article on a very crucial issue!! I fully agree with your point that with the rapid advancement in AI & big data space, the laws and regulations have to keep pace. Although, as pointed out by you, countries are trying to address this gap- examples of India (NITI policy commission, personal data protection bill) and strategies by China & UK. But a major concern amongst global think-tanks is that since major technology companies which make AI-products are global in nature (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.), a coherent global legislative framework is required. For this, the only way out seems to spread global awareness via articles such as this on the issue and hope that perhaps some-day UN and it’s member nations will take up the issue as seriously as that of global trade.

  3. I still do not think there is any necessity for additional or special legislation on AI. We have enough laws already in our legal system to tackle such issues as AI. What have we done with the already existing laws that are there for cyber crimes and special issues. I think more than bringing new legislation its important to understand the problem and then correct implementation of Laws. Both of you seem to be too much academic in approaching a real life issue. AI is not a master it is still an assistant for human. You can not bring a law to punish machinery. As such our legal system is too complicated for proper dispensation of justice. And you are advocating to further complicate it. Its more important to properly understand the problem and interpret the existing laws for proper adjudication. Making new laws is no solution. Both of you sound too academic to an otherwise real worl issue that can be tackled within the given legal framework provided we apply the understanding and interpretation of Law properly

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