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Legal and potential ethical issues of Artificial Intelligence


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A recent issue of a popular computing journal posed the following futuristic question?

“It is the year 2023, and for the first time, a self – driving car navigating city streets strikes and kills a pedestrian. A lawsuit is sure to follow. But exactly which laws will apply? No – one knows for sure.”

The thought provoking article goes on to suggest that the laws that are likely to apply are those that deal with products with a faulty design. However, it argues that following this legal route, the law holds back the development of the self – driving cars, as settlements for product design cases (in the USA) are typically almost ten times higher than for the cases involving human negligence, and that does not include the extra costs associated with the product recalls to fix the design issue.

The article goes on to argue that such cases should instead be dealt with as cases of negligence, just as they would for a human driver. The author of the article pointed out that a standard handbook of US Tort Law states that “A bad state of mind is neither necessary nor sufficient to show negligence; conduct is everything.” Point well taken Sir.

It may be for sure that this issue will arise even sooner than the year 2023. The author of this paper recently hired a car that included several new safety features. One of these features was that, if the car’s radars detected an imminent collision while the car was travelling at between 4 and 19 miles per hour, the car’s engine would cut out automatically to help prevent a possible collision.

While reversing the car out of his driveway, the author drove too close to the hedge. The car sounded its ‘proximity alarm’, and cut the engine off. However, even when the steering wheel was moved sideways so that the car would miss the hedge, the engine would not restart while the car was in the reverse gear.

The author had to put the car back into forward gear and move forward slightly before he was able to continue reversing out. All of this took place wholly within the driveway. However, if it had taken place while the rear end of the car was projecting into the road, while a heavy lorry travelling at some speed towards the car, most drivers would prefer to risk getting their paintwork scratched by a hedge than sitting in a car that refused to restart and complete the desired manoeuvre.

It seems inevitable that sooner or later, some driver will blame these ‘safety features’ for their involvement in a serious accident.

First, it is important to establish the term “Artificial Intelligence – AI”. There are researchers in the AI field who consider anything that mimics human intelligence, by whatever method, to be “artificial intelligence”; there are others who think that the only “artificially intelligent” programs are those that simulate or mimic the way in which humans think. There are also those in the field of information systems who would classify many “artificially intelligent” programs as being complex information systems, with ‘true’ artificial intelligence being reserved for the meta – level decision making that is sometimes characterised as ‘wisdom’.

Being among the world’s fastest growing major economies, India must ready itself for the AI onslaught. The number of LinkedIn members adding AI skill to their profile increased 190% between the year 2015 and 2018 – the fastest growing skill set, by far in the world. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are saying that the AI tools can detect Covid – 19 through human’s cough. According to their research studies, they say that people who are asymptomatic may differ from healthy people in the way that they cough and while differences are not decipherable to the human ear, AI can detect these. Moreover, the researchers are also working to make this tool available to users as an app.

As per a forecast top 5 soft skills required are creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence, while top 10 hard skill required are blockchain, cloud computing, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence, UX design, business analysis, affiliate marketing, sales, scientific computing and video production.

Artificial Intelligence has got a bright and promising future in India. AI has the possibility to add US$ 957 Billion or 15% of the present gross value: to the Indian economy by the year 2035. AI can provide large incremental value to different sectors, for example, energy, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, education and agriculture.

In the legal profession, AI has already found its way into supporting lawyers and clients’ alike helping lawyers perform due diligence and research. It is providing additional insights and “shortcuts” through analytics and automating creative processes (including some legal writing) in the legal work. AI companies continue to find ways of developing technology that will manage laborious tasks in different industries for better speed and accuracy. In the legal profession, AI has already found its way into supporting lawyers and clients alike. An application is being developed for the Supreme Court, which will club similar cases and involve closer legal scrutiny for decision making.

The growing interest in applying AI in law is slowly transforming the profession and closing in on the work of paralegals, legal researchers, and litigators. In India advance development is taking place in its application to overburdened courts.

The government is using extensive AI and data analytics on the data generated based on Income Tax, GST, Custom – Import or Export returns. 1.20 crore GST tax payers submit their returns and out of which 15,000 – 20,000 traders were targeted based on applying AI tools on their returns after getting mashup from data from income tax, custom tax, service tax. Due to the untiring efforts, GST has crossed Rs. 1.15 lakh in December 2020. Earlier such enquiry was based on hearsay and complaints, rather than data driven. 180 individuals have been put behind bars, which include managing directors, proprietors, 5 charter accountants and 1 company secretary, who were dodging the system and have not been given bail and continue to remain in jail for serious charges for more than 60 days.

No one is complaining, the AI points to the omissions and no ethics are being broken.

Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Saxena
Rajiv Prakash Saxena is a graduate of UBC, Vancouver, Canada. He is an authority on eCommerce, eProcurement, eSign, DSCs and Internet Security. He has been a Technology Bureaucrat and Thought leader in the Government. He has 8 books and few UN assignments. He wrote IT Policies of Colombia and has implemented projects in Jordan, Rwanda, Nepal and Mauritius. Rajiv writes, speaks, mentors on technology issues in Express Computers, ET, National frontier and TV debates. He worked and guided the following divisions: Computer Aided Design (CAD), UP: MP: Maharashtra and Haryana State Coordinator to setup NICNET in their respective Districts of the State, TradeNIC, wherein a CD containing list of 1,00,000 exporters was cut with a search engine and distributed to all Indian Embassies and High Commissions way back in the year 1997 (It was an initiative between NIC and MEA Trade Division headed by Ms. Sujatha Singh, IFS, India’s Ex Foreign Secretary), Law Commission, Ministry of Law & Justice, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Justice, Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), National Jail Project, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Minorities (NCM), National Data Centres (NDC), NIC National Infrastructure, Certifying Authority (CA) to issue Digital Signature Certificates (DSCs), eProcurement, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA), Lok Sabha and its Secretariat (LSS) and Rajya Sabha and its Secretariat (RSS) along with their subordinate and attached offices like Directorate of Estate (DoE), Land & Development Office (L&DO), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), National Capital Regional Planning Board (NCRPB), Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDO), National Building Organisation (NBO), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), BMPTC and many others.



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