Estonia to Extend Legal Recognition to AI

Besides helping create Skype and host Nato’s cyber-defence centre, Estonia is also aspiring to spearhead the regulation of robotics.

The country is considering to develop legislation that addresses the role AI in legal disputes, according to Siim Sikkut, The Estonian Government's Chief Information Officer.

One discussion pertains to the term “robot-agent”, which rides between a legal personality and property belonging to an individual.

Sikkut explains that there are benefits in acknowledging that AI carries the same judicial level as natural and legal persons. Nonetheless, the ministry will first need to obtain political support.

“If we seize this opportunity as a government, we could be one of the trailblazers,” Sikkut contends.

As regulatory issues are beginning to surface globally with the introduction of self-driving cars and drones, Estonia has instead been welcoming new technologies more rapidly than others.

Lawmakers at the European Parliament advised European Commission to consider special legislation and statuses for robots in the event of accidents in which someone will need to be held accountable.

Sikkut states that he has no knowledge of other governments engaging in similar dialogues and that he is optimistic the new legislation will be implemented in the next few years.

No doubt, it will not be a smooth ride for Estonia.

“We need to get plenty of myths and stereotypes out of the way early on,” Sikkut explains. “Like that robots are taking over everything or that we’re going too far with computerization. Of course, these questions need to be addressed with all new technologies.”

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