Liberating Intelligent Machines with Financial Instruments


  • Anniina Huttunen
  • Jakke Kulovesi
  • Lorenz G. Lechner
  • William Brace
  • Kari Silvennoinen
  • Vesa Kantola



In science fiction, Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics, as presented in his novel I, Robot, are the classical starting point for machine responsibility analysis.1 Machine ethics research has widely followed Asimov's example2. Murphy and Woods3 propose alternative laws inspired by Asimov's original laws that emphasize a developer’s view on the ethics of robotics. In these works, machine responsibility is presented from the ethical point of view, but product liability issues are mostly absent, as is legal analysis. The present state of robot legal liability issues is to some extent described in existing literature.4 This paper addresses responsible robotics from a legal perspective. However, instead of focusing on ethical considerations elaborated in philosophy and Artificial Intelligence (AI)5 communities6, the legal liability risks related to inherently error-prone intelligent machines are considered and a solution combining legal and economical components is proposed. Because of the technological difficulties in creating perfectly functioning machines and the cognitive element inherent in intelligent machines and machine interactions, we propose a new kind of legal approach, i.e. a financial instrument liberating the machine. In this framework, a machine can become an ultimate machine by emancipating itself from its manufacturer/owner/operator. This can be achieved through the creation of a legal framework around this ultimate machine that in itself has economic value. We start this article by assessing the liability risks related to intelligent machines. Currently, the manufacturer or operator is held liable depending on the circumstances. Thereafter we will examine the management of the risks by technical and legal means, i.e. by means of liability stocks liberating the machine. The article relates to the European context. However, the solution can easily be adapted to other jurisdictions.