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The Curious Case Of AI And Legal Liability

AI is no longer a futuristic ideal from sci-fi movies. It’s here, and it’s affecting the way we do business. Have you considered the legal implications of the fact that the future is now?

Andrew Taylor

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While we couldn’t hope to provide an exhaustive analysis of the circumstances in which the use of artificial intelligence could result in legal liability, it is the intention of this article to provoke some thought about the way in which we integrate AI into our lives and, significantly, into our businesses.

While South Africa lags behind the western world in terms of technology adoption and diffusion, it is without question a matter that warrants a good measure of foresight. This was made particularly relevant when Uber’s autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in the US earlier this year.

Nowhere are these concerns around the intersection of artificial intelligence and legal liability more applicable. However, it bears mentioning that we have already been living with software systems which, to a greater or lesser degree, have artificially subsumed the role of a human(s) in a given process.

Consider the mid 1980’s case of Therac-25, a Canadian-designed radiation dosing machine that incorrectly dosed six patients with a fatal cocktail of radiation.

Moving forward

Conversely, however, the use of modern artificial intelligence and software processes to assist humans in their endeavours has yielded untold gains in efficiency and efficacy across innumerable areas of application.

Related: How Automation Can Transform Your Start-up

Indeed, the uncertainty surrounding liability in our overly litigious society is likely to have hindered the development and commercialisation of many AI solutions that could have been revolutionary, for fear of the possible liability that could ensue as a result of their use. Little doubt, then, that sci-fi has not done very much to aid the cause of the AI evangelists. How then, do we attribute liability to AI?

The problem with conventional criminal and civil liability is that it relies, in large measure on the application of objective standards — criminal liability in South Africa specifically calls for the act (or omission) of a human being and must be a voluntary act. Attributing this standard to AI means that criminal liability cannot ensue for an AI system. Naturally, there are other forms of liability, but this — at its core — calls for a re-examination of the standards of what constitutes conduct for purposes of criminal conduct. This does not even begin to touch on the hurdles encountered in establishing ‘fault’ on the part of the AI.

Governing AI

The answer lies in the detail of the rationalisation of the decision-making process of the particular application of AI. Perhaps, if we are able to tease out the way in which the AI arrived at the decision as opposed to a black box approach that examines only the result, then we are making some strides to ascertaining whether liability should arise in a given circumstance.

What is clear, is that we need to have a framework in place for the promulgation of appropriate laws that would govern the proverbial Skynet and when liability should arise. The European Union has made some progress in this regard, having called for an EU-wide legislative framework that will govern the ethical development and deployment of AI, and the establishment of liability for actors, including robots.

It may sound far removed from your day-to-day business, but this may impact your business sooner than you think — from chat bots that enter into contracts, insurance AI that quantifies your risk profile and premium, and legal AI that diagnoses your legal cases using historical case law, to AI that aids judges avoid inherent biases and mete out appropriate sentences, the future is very much here.

Related: Why AI Won’t Replace Direct Marketing

From the leading edge

South Africa has an opportunity to lead the regulation of this new frontier and prevent the all too familiar lag of legislation in the dust of technology. It requires a regulatory approach where various formulations of product liability, design and programming liability can be negotiated by informed stakeholders to cater for these new forms of technology and the situations where they go awry, and to more accurately reflect the ethics and concerns of our society.

It is undoubtedly a tricky and murky road, where no system is error-free and wrongfulness of AI is a hard sell, but nevertheless, one which must be explored. In the interim, companies need to ensure that sound corporate governance is practised in all decisions that involve AI, to record the risks identified and to carefully manage its execution and implementation.

Andrew Taylor is the co-founder of Legal Legends, a company that aims to revolutionise the legal industry by being Africa’s first eCommerce website for quality legal services aimed specifically at start-ups and entrepreneurs

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(Video) TomTom Telematics – Let’s Drive Business (UK)

TomTom Telematics

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WEBFLEET provides you with the right information at the right time to make smart decisions and achieve your goals: Lowering cost, reducing time on the road, supporting drivers and delighting customers. Running a business can be hard. So let’s make it easier. Request a demo and find out more at telematics.tomtom.com/webfleet/landingpages/launching-the-new-webfleet.

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Making The Case For FTTH With BDCOM

Successfully making the case for FTTH with BDCOM, Miro offers tangible solutions when deploying last-mile fibre connectivity through cost effective PON technology.

MiRO

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As a service provider, deploying a fibre network may seem daunting, expensive and unappealing; this stems from the capital expenditure required, as well as the added risk of the civil work needed during application. With the gaining popularity of fibre amongst various sectors; from service providers, to the end-users who demand high-speed internet, the demand for fibre is only gaining continuous traction; from the rising use of video-streaming platforms, to the ever-stable demand for reliable connectivity solutions, both for business and home use.

Given these facts, as well as the lingering hesitancy of expanding with fibre, the possibilities of this much desired optical connectivity can be realised through PON. Passive Optical Networks are currently transforming the face of last-mile fibre deployments. A world where sending data happens at the speed of light is now tangible at a tenth of the cost with PON. All the advantages which arise from optical fibre are now available in a cost-effective solution.

The demand for cost-effective, last-mile fibre solutions are also increasing due to the high bandwidth requirements of households and businesses; the large expenditure on active equipment and the on-going challenges of delivering high-capacity internet in densely populated areas are only some of the existing concerns. These, amongst other challenges faced by service providers, are accelerating the interest in deploying fibre optic networks to provide higher bandwidth delivery, reliability and lower latency levels.

The hesitancy of deploying fibre within a service offering stems from the myth that a fibre roll-out, especially in last-mile applications, can be a great expenditure in terms of infrastructure and operating costs. This myth can now be proven false with our FTTx solution from BDCOM.

The solutions available with PON (Passive Optical Networks) have been proven to reduce installation cost by up to 70% with the use of simple reflective devices, known as splitters.

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Related: Embracing Technology For Business

PON, completely negates the need for active equipment (such as switches, boosters etc.) because it allows the light, to be reflected towards the intended receiver (ONU) which then talks back to the light source (OLT) which is situated by the POP (Point of Presence). PON take up less physical space and consume less energy than traditional Ethernet because of the reduced number of active equipment. PON deployment costs up to 50% less than Ethernet, this includes components, labour as well as materials. The requirements for cooling are also less than with Ethernet, offering the client a saving on their utility costs.

Furthermore, fibre optic cables have a lifespan of up to 50 years as opposed to the 15 year lifespan of Ethernet copper. By analysing these facts, PON technology is arguably the only cost-effective solution to a fibre roll-out because of the major decrease in deployment and maintenance cost; therefore, there is also no surprise as to why it has become increasingly embraced by hospitals, government agencies and universities, amongst other industries.

bdcom-miro-south-africa_smallFor more information on the best last-mile PON solution for your fibre application, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team; introducing you to the possibility of FTTx, together.

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A Cloud Is A Cloud, No Matter What Business You’re In, Right? Wrong!

Have the flexibility to grow your business without carrying hefty CAPEX costs.

Kaspersky Lab

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Technology for SMEs can be daunting — as there are a myriad of options available. This, coupled with technical jargon can make things feel a little complex, inflexible and all too often tied to, and limited by, current infrastructure. However, with the introduction of Cloud technology this is fast changing and presenting businesses with new opportunities — no matter what form of Cloud technology they are using. What becomes critical, is to have the right security in place to allow the true benefits of cloud to be realised without the associated risk.

The use of Cloud-based services (private, public and hybrid) is fast becoming the de facto way for many SMEs to run a lean and efficient business — as it gives them the flexibility to grow and change without worrying about hefty CAPEX costs and the maintenance associated with infrastructure rollout and support.

Related: What is This Thing Called Cloud?

In fact, according to a report* 49% of SMEs are planning to expand their hybrid Cloud infrastructures, yet 59% feel that outsourcing and Cloud hosted services could introduce new risks to the IT security of their business. As a result, many businesses are finding themselves in an untamed Cloud data jungle with a lack of control and visibility. This is making them vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

A secure cloud future with Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security

As a result, it is crucial for businesses using the Cloud, to equip themselves with a dedicated security offering that provides an adaptive security approach empowered by true machine power to protect their hybrid Cloud from the most sophisticated threats. Introducing Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security – borderless security engineered for your hybrid cloud environment!

Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security provides integrated security layers for a safe and efficient environment that allows for the borderless migration of workloads between private and public Clouds for continuous, flexible, transparent and manageable security, so you can be as hybrid as business needs dictate.

The result?

  • Streamlined and automated responses to advanced cyber threats — before they harm the business
  • Exploit prevention, vulnerability assessment and automated patch management, including anti-ransomware and behaviour detection
  • Full visibility and manageability across the entire hybrid Cloud environment
  • Full control over who can access corporate data on-premise and in the Cloud.

Related: 3 Tips for Keeping Data Safe in the Cloud

Holistic protection and visibility across any Cloud environment across public domain, on-premise hybrid promotes a secure cloud future – exactly what every SMB needs!

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* According to ‘Cloud Zoo: Don’t Let Your Business Data Roam Free’ report.

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