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Regulating AI - Lessons learnt from cyberspace

Regulating AI - Lessons learnt from cyberspace

By Dr Ben Gardner, Chief Scientific Officer at Wavelength.law

I've been thinking a lot about the implications of machine readable documentation and artificial intelligence as I'm putting together the current blog post series. This has been interrupted by a busy month on the conference circuit but one of the conversations I had on what blockchain and smart contracts meant to lawyers prompted me to re-watch the recording of the presentation Lawrence Lessig gave at COALA's blockchain workshop Sydney 2015 (embedded below). In this talk Lessig re-visits themes from his book Code v2 and how the lessons learnt need to be understood by the blockchain community. In particular he discusses how computer code, which is inherently unregulated, can become regulated through laws, i.e. the state, and market, i.e. business, controlling the architecture, the environment, within which the code operates.

 While this presentation is focused around blockchain and smart contracts these same arguments and lessons equally apply to the current conversation around regulation of artificial intelligence. This has been an area I'm growing more and more interested in following recent news stories about the application of AI in society (my current most horrific example being Predictim, an AI that mines your babysitters' social media accounts and generates a "risk rating" for them). Code, or alternatively the 'AI algorithms', are not at fault here. It is the application to which they are turned, and the data used, which needs to be regulated. If you want to have your thinking stimulated around how law and code interact within society this is a great watch. Alternatively if you have more time I would highly recommend reading Code v2.

Thinking Through Law and Code, Again - Lawrence Lessig - COALA's Blockchain Workshops - Sydney 2015

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Ben Gardner