Automated systems and artificial intelligence (AI) soon will be like electricity—an ever-present technology that enables many aspects of modern society to function smoothly while operating largely in the background. Internet-connected “smart” refrigerators and kitchen shelves in “smart” homes will order food items automatically, without human direction, when existing supplies are running low. Factories are increasingly becoming completely automated, operated by robots that can work 24-hours a day in the dark. AI even can handle tasks that are currently performed by doctors, attorneys, and human resources executives. For example, computer algorithms can diagnose illnesses in patients and review documents and contracts for legal and regulatory issues. AI systems can select the job applicants that firms call in for interviews, and then use facial recognition technology to analyze video-recordings of the interviews to determine which applicants were enthusiastic, bored, or dishonest. Automated systems already control much of the trading on stock and futures exchanges. Regular people who want investment advice and guidance can use their smartphones to enroll in AI-powered robo-advisory services that adjust investment strategies according to individual risk preferences. Algorithms used by online retailers decide what products to show people based on analysis of both the shopping habits of specific individuals and the behavior patterns of like-minded shoppers. Taxis of the future may very well be self-driving cars that are robot business entities that own themselves.
These radical changes in society will have significant implications for the legal system. Advances in AI will necessitate changes to laws and regulations, and even to how lawyers practice law. In this course, students will examine legal and ethical issues related to automated systems, AI, and robotics, which will involve analysis of topics in agency law, business entity law, contract law, and more.