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Artificial Intelligence & Its Legal Implications: An Unfolding Chapter

The evolving narrative of artificial intelligence (AI) is a fascinating, multifaceted one. At its core lies the pivotal question: should AI be accorded legal identity?

Legal Identity & AI: The Broader Picture

Legal identity, within the context of civil law, is understood as intrinsically tied to legal capacity. This, however, does not conflate moral subjectivity with moral personality. The essence of legal identity is intricate and variable. While it encompasses diverse elements – duties, rights, competencies, etc. – it remains fluid, with the potential for these elements to be added or subtracted, with human rights as the sole exception.

In the current era, as we transition from one technological epoch to another, we encounter AI systems with accelerated learning capabilities, taking on roles previously reserved for humans. This rapid evolution prompts revisiting the hypothetical debate from the 20th century about recognising AI systems, especially those displaying “subjective will”, as legal entities. The technological advancements seen with self-driving cars and advanced robotics only amplify this discourse.

Given the unpredictable trajectory of AI, its legal classification is a challenge, despite AI systems becoming indispensable in socio-economic frameworks. Thus, establishing normative guidelines becomes imperative for consistency in AI-legislated relations.

However, not all AI entities contend for legal status. The simpler “electronic assistants” exemplify weak AI with finite functionalities. Our concern lies with the sophisticated “smart machines” inching closer to a strong AI version, possibly surpassing human intellect.

The Rise of Advanced AI: An Age of Multimodal Neural Networks

By 2023, with the emergence of neural networks such as ChatGPT and DALL-e, the AI sphere underwent a transformation. These entities process vast data, occasionally producing content indistinguishable from human-generated material.

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The dynamism in AI, marked by rapid innovations and unpredictability, is evident with OpenAI’s progression from ChatGPT-3 in 2020 to ChatGPT-4 in 2023, which extends beyond text to images.

Earlier, the anticipated era of technological singularity – a phase where AI development could become unrestrained – was presumed distant. Yet, the present pace suggests a quicker arrival, ushering in strong AI with multifaceted capabilities, mirroring or even surpassing human abilities.

In 2023, a collective appeal by AI experts to the Future of Life Institute underscored the urgency for safety and ethical guidelines in AI evolution. This cautionary approach stemmed from the unforeseen functionalities arising in AI and the potential societal shifts resulting from extensive AI interaction.

National Agendas & AI’s Economic Footprint

The rapid evolution of AI resonates with nations’ aspirations of technological leadership, making legislative restraint improbable. The corporate realm too, enticed by AI’s potential, amplifies its investment in AI advancements.

Given the substantial financial prospects – with AI’s projected contribution to the global economy expected to cross 11 trillion euros by 2030 – its integration across economic sectors is inevitable. From industries, transport, banking to social sectors like health and education, AI’s footprint is expanding. Its profound influence on employment patterns and public administration signifies its deepening societal integration.

The Societal Integration of AI

Terms like “artificial personality” and “artificial sociality” frequent discussions, indicating AI’s transition from a technical marvel to a socio-cultural phenomenon.

As AI weaves into our societal fabric, we anticipate a symbiotic relationship between man and machine. This partnership, as highlighted by Nobel laureate J. Stiglitz, heralds a civilizational shift. Contemporary legal scholars like Abbott (2020) advocate for a non-discriminatory legal perspective where humans and AI, performing identical tasks, are viewed similarly. Additionally, humanoid robots, increasingly resembling human physiology, may eventually assume societal roles, as proposed by Karnouskos (2022).

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Governments worldwide are revising legislations to accommodate AI’s escalating role. As per the Stanford University’s AI Index Report 2023, there’s been a notable surge in AI-centric legislations since 2016. The United Nations, too, is actively participating in framing global ethical AI guidelines. Yet, the legislative adaptations lag behind AI’s rapid advancements.

In summary, as AI continues its upward trajectory, intertwining with multiple facets of human existence, its legal and ethical implications warrant careful deliberation. The evolving narrative demands a balanced approach, ensuring innovation while preserving the broader societal interests.

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