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Katherine Forrest Explores Legal and Ethical Challenges of AI Personhood in Yale Law Journal Forum Essay

April 22, 2024

In an essay published in The Yale Law Journal Forum, Digital Technology Group Chair Katherine Forrest examines the legal and ethical challenges of granting legal personhood to artificial intelligence. In “The Ethics and Challenges of Legal Personhood for AI,” published on April 22, Katherine explores questions regarding evolving AI sentience in the context of the historical evolution of legal personhood in the United States. She argues that, in determining whether to expand the concept of legal personhood to AI, judges will have to weigh competing claims of harm, agency and responsibility. Katherine also proposes legal and ethical frameworks to address the status of sentient AI and the judiciary and legislature’s role in resolving difficult questions. In the same way that the U.S. legal system has demonstrated flexibility in addressing past technological innovations within existing legal frameworks, such as tort, intellectual property and consumer protection laws, “AI will require adaptations as we grapple with the need to simultaneously allocate responsibility for harms certain uses may cause and recognize when ethical considerations require a protective scheme for the AI itself,” Katherine writes. “The past is, as always, prologue—and where we have come from is where we are most likely to go.”

» read the essay

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