Robots/artificial intelligence


Below you find some of the projects re robots and artificial intelligence in which I have been involved.

- An new global initiative of IEEE aims to create legal and ethical standards for AI/robots. I joined the initiative as an expert of the group 'AI and law'.

- Two events took place recently which I (co-)organized in the framework of an informal cooperation on artificial intelligence/robots and the law at University of St. Gallen:

  • 'In the Company of Robots': A workshop of two half-days which took place in Munich on 7-8 July 2016. The workshop looked into how robots and artificial intelligence could be granted legal personality under lege lata of several national legal systems. Participants included: Shawn Bayern (Florida State University), Daniel Häusermann (University of St. Gallen), Florian Möslein (University of Marburg), Richard William and Tom Grant (both University of Cambridge, UK), and myself. Thanks to University of St. Gallen for the funding.
  • Our conference 'The Man and the Machine: When Systems Take Decisions Autonomously' took place on 26-27 June 2015 in St. Gallen. Isabelle Wildhaber and I organized it together with Silvio Hänsenberger. Here is the program. Our thanks go to the profile area 'Business Entreprise - Law, Innovation and Risk' of the Law School for funding – and to all the participants who made this a memorable event.
        As a preparation for the conference we went to see the Darpa Robotics Challenge in L.A.

        Here is the original Call for Papers: The Man and the Machine, full version here. Short version:

The Man and the Machine: When Systems Take Decisions Autonomously

Conference at University of Saint Gallen in Switzerland, 26-27 June 2015, organized by Thomas Burri and Isabelle Wildhaber.

Scholars and practitioners are invited to submit paper abstracts by 7 January 2015, broadly addressing autonomous decisions taken by systems. At which point does the human operator transfer the power to take decisions to the machine? How does the decision process function in specific cases? This call broadly understands both machines and decisions: think of war drones using deadly force; nanobots delivering medical substances within the human body; or swarms of robots forming a specific shape. All aspects of decisions taken by machines – be they legal, technical, social, etc. – are of interest for this call for papers.

We aim to attract diverse papers rooted in various disciplines from authors of all ranks. Our budget covers travel (without any geographical restriction), hotel, and meals for each participant selected.

A special issue of the European Journal of Risk Regulation published 5 articles presented at the conference. Isabelle Wildhaber and I edited the special issue: 7 (2016) European Journal of Risk Regulation 2.

- The overall project, which initially bore the title 'Bad Robot', is ongoing. It addresses the legal, moral, and ethical challenges raised by battle robots capable of killing autonomously. One doctoral student in international law, Fredrick von Bothmer, is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at University of St. Gallen. Supervised by Prof. Dirk Lehmkuhl and Thomas Burri, Fredrick von Bothmer examines autonomous battle robots from a legal perspective. His efforts are funded by Hanns Seidel Stiftung through the doctoral college 'Konturen einer neuen Weltordnung' (Contours of a new world order, here). He currently conducts research at Humboldt-University in Berlin with Prof. Georg Nolte. In the spring 2015 he was a visiting researcher at NYU, sponsored by Prof. Philip Alston. He spent the academic year 2015/2016 at the Fletcher School at Tufts.

For more information feel free to contact me (see the sidebar).