Do We Need New Legal Personhood in the Age of Robots and AI?

  • Robert van den Hoven van GenderenEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Law, Business and Innovation book series (PLBI)


Do we need to give robots and AI entities a kind of legal personhood in a robotized society where activities with legal effect are increasingly performed by AI systems and autonomous robots? In this chapter, this question is considered by comparing the requirements of existing legal subjects, natural persons and (artificial) legal persons such as corporations and states. The relevance of free will, intelligence and consciousness of natural persons to acquire legal personhood are analysed and compared with other beings, animals and future AI entities. To give legal personhood to AI is also influenced by the human conviction that this would increase the risk to lose control and a “robot uprising.” Man, as always is afraid of technology getting out of hand and is convinced of their own superiority and therefore always wants to stay in control. In that context, the need for a certain legal personhood in a future legal framework, considering civil liability and even criminal liability is discussed as it is also subjected to considerations by the European Parliament, eventually leading to proposals in European law.


Artificial intelligence Big Data Ethics Human control Privacy GDPR Legal personhood Subject Disruptive technologies Liability Singularity Robot law 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawCenter for Law and Internet, Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.SwitchAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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