Almost human : law and human agency in the time of artificial intelligence
by Andrew Murray
The Hague : Asser Press, 2021
X, 59 p.
Sixth annual T.M.C. Asser Lecture
‘Law is about agency – the human capacity to act independently and to make our own free choices. As Jeremy Webber observes, “Law is consciously created” and is the distillation of the collective agency of a society, group, or culture. The rule of law is the ultimate distillation of this principle: the clear spirit of human choice in the purest form. However, the process of datafication: the reduction of the complexity of the world to data values, threatens the fabric of human agency and the rule of law. Complexity becomes numerical values and choices become mathematical processes. Human brains, less equipped for this form of decision-making, risk being replaced by algorithmic decision-making. Human agency diminishes as Artificial Intelligence ascends. LawTech replaces lawyers; risk assessments replace actuaries; there is even the possibility of “algorithmic warfare”. In meeting this challenge, the focus to date has been to invest in AI Ethics rather than AI Regulation. The EU Commission, in its recent White Paper, recommended ethical guidelines could be the foundation for a human-centric trust framework in AI. This lecture challenges this normative assumption by identifying the foundations of datafication and addressing its challenge to human agency, and above all the rule of law.’
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