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When Robots Kill

Artificial Intelligence under Criminal Law

Gabriel Hallevy

Publication Year: 2013

The growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) software and robots in the commercial, industrial, military, medical, and personal spheres has triggered a broad conversation about human relationships with these entities. There is a deep and common concern in modern society about AI technology and the ability of existing social and legal arrangements to cope with it. What are the legal ramifications if an AI software program or robotic entity causes harm? Although AI and robotics are making their way into everyday modern life, there is little comprehensive analysis about assessing liability for robots, machines, or software that exercise varying degrees of autonomy.

Gabriel Hallevy develops a general and legally sophisticated theory of the criminal liability for AI and robotics that covers the manufacturer, programmer, user, and all other entities involved. Identifying and selecting analogous principles from existing criminal law, Hallevy proposes specific ways of thinking through criminal liability for a diverse array of autonomous technologies in a diverse set of circumstances.

Published by: Northeastern University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

In most developed countries, unmanned vehicles, surgical robots, industrial robots, trading algorithms, personal robots, and other artificial intelligence (AI) entities are in common use. Such use may be personal, medical, military, commercial, or industrial. ...

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1. The Emergence of Machina Sapiens Criminalis

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pp. 1-37

Since the dawn of humanity, we have sought tools to make life easier. In the Stone Age, tools were made of stone. As humans discovered the advantages of metals, metal replaced stone. With the expansion of knowledge, tools proliferated and played increasing roles in daily human life. ...

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2. AI Criminal Liability for Intentional Offenses

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pp. 38-83

In 1981, a thirty-seven-year-old Japanese employee in a motorcycle factory was killed by an AI robot working near him. The robot identified the employee as a threat to its mission and calculated that the most efficient way to eliminate the threat was to push the worker into an adjacent machine. ...

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3. AI Criminal Liability for Negligence Offenses

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pp. 84-103

One of the common applications of ai expert systems is medical,1 generally used for more accurate diagnosis. Patient symptoms are entered into the system using visual scanners or other means to capture verbal data, after which the expert system analyzes the factual data and suggests a diagnosis to the medical staff. ...

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4. AI Criminal Liability for Strict Liability Offenses

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pp. 104-119

The operations carried out by drones are based on artificial intelligence technology. AI drones operate not only on the ground (unmanned vehicles), but also in the air and underwater.1 For example, in 2012 the US Navy examined an operative drone that was slated to land on an aircraft carrier, relying on pinpoint CPR coordinates and advanced avionics. ...

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5. Applicability of General Defenses to AI Criminal Liability

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pp. 120-155

Can an AI system be insane? An infant? Intoxicated? Caught in situations of self-defense, necessity, or duress? One of the most common uses of AI technology is for guarding, as noted in chapter 1.1 For example, the South Korean government uses AI robots as soldiers along its border with North Korea, and since 2012 as prison guards.2 ...

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6. Sentencing AI

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pp. 156-176

Is it possible to impose a prison sentence on an AI robot? How can such a punishment be carried out in practice? One of the objectives of the criminal process is sentencing. The legal discussion taking place in court regarding the criminal liability of the defendant is often considered to be a preliminary discussion before sentencing. ...

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pp. 177-178

Criminal liability for artificial intelligence entities may sound radical. For centuries, criminal liability was considered to be part of an exclusively human universe. The first crack in the concept occurred in the seventeenth century, when corporations were admitted into this exclusive club. ...


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pp. 179-212

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 213-240


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pp. 241-244

E-ISBN-13: 9781555538064
E-ISBN-10: 1555538061
Print-ISBN-13: 9781555538019

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 831121032
MUSE Marc Record: Download for When Robots Kill

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Criminal liability.
  • Artificial intelligence -- Law and legislation -- Criminal provisions.
  • Criminal liability of artificial intelligences.
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