‘Robot Liability: How Does it Feel to be Hit by an ePerson?’

“The arrival of robots, autonomous software agents and so-called ‘Internet of Things’-devices challenges existing liability systems. While the operation of legacy products was mostly in the hands of users, autonomous cars and other algorithmic devices will be operated by algorithms that are identical across the whole fleet of products. The ‘behaviour’ of autonomously operated products will be determined by their respective manufacturers. Because of this shift in responsibility from autonomous product users to manufacturers, responsibility for damages caused by these devices must shift as well. In economic terms, the manufacturer clearly is the ‘cheapest cost avoider’; in fact, the manufacturer may be the only actor with practical capability to avoid accidents. Therefore, we may see a massive shift away from the current systems of ‘operator liability’ and towards ‘manufacturer liability’. As a consequence, product liability may significantly gain in importance. The question is whether product liability law is up to the task …” (more)

[Gerhard Wagner, Oxford Business Law Blog, 10 August]

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