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Criminal Artificial Intelligence: How Should the Legal System Deal with Criminal Robots?

It is incredibly fascinating to imagine how technology will reinvent society as we know it today. Our society is dramatically different than the one that the generation before us had lived, and with the speed in which innovation and technology have progressed, it can only be understood that future generations will experience a different society than we know today. The excitement of innovation leaves our legal system in an ever-changing state as the legal ramifications of these inventions are only felt once these inventions have violated our lives or our legal system in some way.

Artificial Intelligence: The Next Frontier

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is considered the next frontier with regards to the scientific and innovation community. The ability to create “wired” life has a significant effect that we can see even today with drones which explore the most dangerous recesses of the world and robots who experience the unknown for us. What is tempered with the excitement of all the advantages that they can provide to our society is the possible negative impact that these robots could have. Not so much killer robots (as has been ventured by television and media), but robots that could kill or violate the law in some way or another. Is there a way to make robots criminally liable? Or should the programmers of the robots be found criminally liable? Is there even a way to assert some form of deterrence or punishment to a robot who has no life, no conscience or no reformative abilities?

What is a Robot’s Criminal Liability? Can a Robot Even Be Liable?

The major problem with determining criminal liability with regards to robots is the fact that our legal system has little room for robotic mens rea. Mens rea is Latin for an “intending mind” and is generally one of the requirements necessary to be put forth in criminal cases to assert criminal liability. In other words, when you commit an act which violates a statute, generally part of the equation for asserting criminal liability is whether the person had the intention to commit the crime at the time of the offense. Though that is not always needed, for example, when the statute is a strict liability statute which means that no matter what someone’s intentions were, just violating the statute is enough for criminal liability to be asserted. What if the standard of the crime requires that the robot has the mens rea to commit the act or knowingly committed the crime – how do you prove either or both?

The Case of the Random Darknet Shopper and its Illegal Purchases…Now What?

The question of criminal liability seems like it might be far into the future, but within the news recently, criminal liability of robotic technology is being put to the test. Recently, in London, two Swiss artists, for an art project, programmed a robot named “Random Darknet Shopper” to scour the “darknet” (the Internet black market) and use $100 in bitcoins to automatically shop on the site, and have whatever it buys sent to the artists. The darknet has over 16,000 market items, most illegal but not all. The bot bought for the artists 10 ecstasy pills, a false Hungarian passport, and a fake designer Louis Vuitton handbag. After the experiment, there leaves a significant amount of issues that need to be reviewed; largely, is the bot at fault, are the artists criminally liable, or is there a third party who deserves blame?

Could the Programmers of Criminal Bots be Charged?

Potentially the artists, or generally programmers of future robots, could be cited for the wrongdoing because they created the robot and programmed it in the future place. If there is an aspect of foreseeability of the illegal actions of the robot, then the case becomes a bit clearer. However, if the creators had no criminal intention, and the robot acts in a way that is not necessarily foreseeable, then the case becomes even more difficult. And how do you punish robots? Only time will tell how lawmakers and the courts will deal with criminal artificial intelligence.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you or loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik about the legal process and the facts of your case. Contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation.

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