Artificial Intelligence and Law

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 103–121

Intelligent agents and liability: is it a doctrinal problem or merely a problem of explanation?



The question of liability in the case of using intelligent agents is far from simple, and cannot sufficiently be answered by deeming the human user as being automatically responsible for all actions and mistakes of his agent. Therefore, this paper is specifically concerned with the significant difficulties which might arise in this regard especially if the technology behind software agents evolves, or is commonly used on a larger scale. Furthermore, this paper contemplates whether or not it is possible to share the responsibility with these agents and what are the main objections surrounding the assumption of considering such agents as responsible entities. This paper, however, is not intended to provide the final answer to all questions and challenges in this regard, but to identify the main components, and provide some perspectives on how to deal with such issue.


Intelligent agent Liability Decision making Foreseeability 



  1. Beard v. London General Omnibus Co (1900) 2 QB 530Google Scholar
  2. Cooper v. Horn, 448 S.E.2d 403 (Va.1994)Google Scholar
  3. Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932) AC 562Google Scholar
  4. Lopez v. McDonald’s, 238 Cal. Rptr. 436, 445–446 (Cal. Ct. App. 1987)Google Scholar
  5. Ready Mixed Concrete (South East) Ltd v. Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1968) 2 QB 497Google Scholar
  6. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. v. Brockhurst 453 F.2d 533, 10th Cir. (1972)Google Scholar
  7. Twine v. Bean’s Express Ltd (1946) 1 All ER 202Google Scholar


  1. Johnson DG (1985) Computer ethics. Prentice Hall, Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  2. Moravec H (1999) Robot: mere machine to transcendent mind. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Kurzweil R (1999) The age of spiritual machines. Viking Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Russell SJ, Norvig P (1995) Artificial intelligence: a modern approach. Prentice Hall, New JerseyMATHGoogle Scholar


  1. Dennett DC (1984) I could not have done otherwise—so what? J Philos 81(10):599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Weitzenboeck EM (2001) Electronic agents and the formation of contracts. Int J Law Inf Technol 9(3):209Google Scholar
  3. Sartor G (2003) Intentional concepts and the legal discipline of software agents. In: Pitt J (ed) Open agent societies: normative specifications in multi-agent systems. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  4. Davis JR (1998) On self-enforcing contracts, the right to hack, and willfully ignorant agents). 13 Berkeley Techno Law JGoogle Scholar
  5. Karnow (1996) Liability for distributed artificial intelligences. 11 Berkeley Tech L J 147Google Scholar
  6. Wein LE (1992) The responsibility of intelligent artefacts: toward an automated jurisprudence. Harv J Law Technol 6:116Google Scholar
  7. Jordan N (1963) Allocation of functions between man and machines in automated systems. J Appl Psychol 47(3):161–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kerr IR (1999) Spirits in the material world: intelligent agents as intermediaries in electronic commerce. Dalhousie Law J 22(2):217–218Google Scholar
  9. Allen T, Widdison R (1996) Can computers make contracts? Harv J L Tech 9(25):42Google Scholar
  10. Bechtel W (1985) Attributing responsibility to computer systems. Metaphilosophy 16(4):298CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Al- albayt UniversityMafraqJordan

Personalised recommendations