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AI legal personality: is it possible? Legal and moral-ethical aspect

17 Oct 2023
#New technologies

In the modern realities of the active development of AI, the question arises of the need to determine the status of AI, create a full-fledged legal regulation of the activities of AI, determine responsibility for actions performed with the help of AI, and also pay attention to the moral and ethical issues of endowing AI with legal personality.

In connection with the progressive development of AI technologies in the scientific community, the possibility of endowing AI with legal personality is being discussed, that is, it is actually proposed to provide AI with the opportunity to be the subject of legal relations and to give rights and obligations. In this regard, a huge number of legal and ethical questions arise.

Determining the status of AI, it should be noted that throughout the world there is no single position on this issue, and in different jurisdictions the approach to the status of AI is different. In a number of countries, AI is partially endowed with legal personality, for example, in 2017, a robot manufactured by the Hong Kong company Hanson Robotics became the first machine in the world to receive citizenship (Saudi Arabia), Japan granted residency to the Shibuya Mirai chat bot, and there is a precedent in South Africa issuance of a patent for AI. In the Russian Federation, although there is an ambiguous approach to endowing AI with legal personality, nevertheless, it tends more towards the lack of providing artificial intelligence with this opportunity. This article will talk about the possibility of endowing AI with legal personality in general and about the legal regulation of legal relations related to the creation of IP objects by AI on the territory of the Russian Federation.

At the moment, the legislation of the Russian Federation does not contain legal norms regulating the activities of artificial intelligence. However, the legislation already contains the first steps towards the creation of this regulation.

Thus, the concept of AI is enshrined in Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of October 10, 2019 No. 490 “On the development of artificial intelligence in the Russian Federation”. According to this Decree, AI is understood as a set of technological solutions that make it possible to imitate human cognitive functions (including self-learning and search for solutions without a predetermined algorithm) and obtain results when performing specific tasks that are at least comparable to the results of human intellectual activity. The complex of technological solutions includes information and communication infrastructure, software (including which uses machine learning methods), processes and services for data processing and finding solutions.

From this definition, the following essential features should be distinguished:

  • Artificial intelligence is a complex of technological solutions;
  • The specified set of technical solutions should allow simulating human cognitive functions (including self-learning and searching for solutions without a predetermined algorithm);
  • The result of the work of artificial intelligence should be comparable at least with the results of human intellectual activity.

This concept has a number of significant shortcomings. Firstly, the use of the concept of "artificial intelligence" in itself is incorrect. Secondly, the ability of artificial intelligence to imitate human cognitive functions is called into question.

The concept of "intelligence" is quite broad and includes, among other things, mental activity. By itself, the term "intelligence" (intelligence) comes from the Latin intellectus - mind, reason, mind, mental abilities of a person. The Report of the World Commission of UNESCO "On the Ethics of Robotics" of 2017 names four main characteristics of a modern robot: mobility, interactivity, communication, autonomy, which allows to analyze and independently make decisions and carry out actions without human intervention and control. Ozhegov S.I. artificial intelligence understands the thinking ability, the mental principle of a person. In the dictionary of methodological terms, artificial intelligence is understood as mind, reason, mental abilities: learn from experience, adapt, adapt to new situations, apply knowledge to control the environment or think abstractly. In addition, it is necessary to keep in mind the existence of a variety of types of intelligence: emotional, verbal, aesthetic, social, etc.

All concepts reflect the ability of artificial intelligence to an autonomous thought process, the ability to adapt to new situations, independent decision-making, the ability to reason, but for a given period of time, artificial intelligence has not reached such a level of development. Scientists believe that in the future, the abilities of artificial intelligence may well correspond to human ones. In science, there are different positions regarding the timing of the achievement of such a result by artificial intelligence. However, these predictions are rather abstract. In addition, the achievement of incredibly fast decision-making speed by artificial intelligence does not mean that these capabilities can be compared with human capabilities, especially considering that the human brain has not been fully studied. In addition, no matter how serious the power and “human-like” appearance of artificial intelligence is, it is unlikely to be able to possess consciousness, subconsciousness and have the full cumulative possibility of human feelings. Based on the definition itself and analyzing the signs of artificial intelligence, it follows that the properties and capabilities of artificial intelligence are, in principle, incorrect to call intelligence as such and even more so to compare with the cognitive function of the human brain, which in itself excludes the possibility of endowing artificial intelligence with legal personality.

As mentioned above, the legal status of artificial intelligence is currently not defined in the legislation of the Russian Federation, however, there are several dominant positions on this subject:

  • Artificial intelligence is a subject of law, the content is close to a natural person, but there is also a proposal to introduce a separate legal status of "electronic person".
  • Artificial intelligence is an object of law and should be equated in status with animals, that is, it is property.
  • Artificial intelligence is only a technical tool.

It is noteworthy that in the Resolution of the European Parliament No. 2020/2015 on intellectual property rights for the development of artificial intelligence technologies, two types of works are already distinguished: those created by a person with the help of artificial intelligence and those created autonomously by artificial intelligence. However, the second type of works is currently not protected by copyright. In addition, it is interesting that this Resolution emphasizes the negative attitude towards giving artificial intelligence legal personality due to the possibility of a negative impact on the stimulation of human creativity.

The need to determine the status of artificial intelligence is primarily associated with the institution of prosecution. And the point is not even in a punitive nature, but in the creation of safe conditions for the interaction of artificial intelligence and the human individual, including the creation, use and disposal of intellectual property.

In modern reality, when creating objects of intellectual property, a person is increasingly resorting to the help of artificial intelligence. At the same time, artificial intelligence is already beginning to enter into an equal fight with humans. An example of this is the precedents of not only the creation of intellectual property objects by artificial intelligence, but also the victory of a neural network in various creative competitions. Thus, one of such examples was the precedent of the victory of artificial intelligence (neural network DALL-E) in the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards 2023 photo contest. work, to which the organizers of the competition were skeptical.

In the Russian Federation, artificial intelligence cannot be the author of the result of intellectual activity. In accordance with Art. 1257 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation (hereinafter - the Civil Code of the Russian Federation) "the author of a work of science, literature or art is recognized as a citizen whose creative work it was created." That is, the legislation of the Russian Federation recognizes an individual as the author of a work, i.e. person.

The question arises who in this case is the author of the object of intellectual property. There is still no consensus in Russian law enforcement practice and doctrine, but several prevailing approaches can be identified:

  • The author of the result of the intellectual activity of the neural network is the software developer;
  • The author of the result of the intellectual activity of the neural network is the user;
  • The author of the result of intellectual activity is the owner of the equipment used to launch and operate the program;
  • The author of the result of intellectual activity is artificial intelligence.

In my opinion, authorship must be determined in each case individually, depending on the amount of a person's contribution to the functioning of the neural network in order to achieve a specific result. However, I believe that in most cases it is the software developer who should be recognized as the author, since it is he who puts certain algorithms into the neural network to achieve specific results.

Another important criterion for the emergence of copyright is the existence of a creative contribution. This category in the field of intellectual property is very subjective and abstract and is analyzed individually in each case. But if we turn to the very semantics of the word "creativity", then according to the explanatory dictionary of Ozhegov S.I. Creativity is understood as the creation of new cultural or material values. An important element of the creative process is creativity. A person, unlike artificial intelligence, has a physiological ability for mental activity, fantasy. The result of a person's creative activity appears, among other things, due to the compilation of certain experience, knowledge, observations, worldview, imaginative thinking, values, and education. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, does not have all of these properties, unlike a person, therefore, any product created by him is actually the result of generating information embedded in artificial intelligence. Is there a creative input to this generation process? There is no definite answer to this question. On the one hand, the generation process is purely technical, on the other hand, people (artists, composers, etc.) often draw inspiration from already existing results of intellectual activity.

Speaking about the presence of a creative contribution in the work of artificial intelligence, the table of M.E. Gurova, in which artificial intelligence is classified by creative potential:

1) Category: Weak impact on the final result

Characteristics: This category includes machine intelligence, which is used in text editors to correct errors, stylistics, in cameras for auto-tuning (ISO, shutter speed, aperture size, etc.), in audio editors for noise reduction. AI in such cases has only an indirect influence on the result and almost does not show its creative potential.

2) Category: Influence on the final result, but use as a tool (in the idea of a human author)

Characteristics: In this category, artificial intelligence shows its creative potential, but not to the full extent. Creative freedom is limited by context or a small amount of data for analysis and learning. Such AI, for example, changes images in graphic editors.

3) Category: The final result is unpredictable

Characteristics: In this category, the creative potential of AI is shown to the fullest. Machine intelligence systems are self-learning, and the creation of the final result is completely unpredictable and is the purpose of the functioning of the neural network.

Source: Gurova M.E. Intellectual property right property: copyright right on works artificial intelligence // Questions of student science. 2021. No. 6 (58). pp. 231-234.

Based on the table, it follows that artificial intelligence can still have creative potential, but it is rather problematic to distinguish between a technical function and a creative contribution.

Turning to the moral and ethical aspect of endowing artificial intelligence with legal personality, it is necessary to take into account all the possible risks and consequences associated with the actual possible emergence of equality between humans and artificial intelligence. The essence of the problem is far from shrinking the job market for ordinary people, but much more serious consequences.

Since artificial intelligence is devoid of biological processes, feelings, values, including spiritual ones, it can become a dangerous autonomous weapon that operates solely on the basis of cognitive functions, excluding moral and spiritual awareness of actions.

However, if artificial intelligence is not granted legal personality, and the issue of holding accountable for the actions of artificial intelligence is not resolved, this can also lead to negative and even terrible consequences.

Artificial intelligence can turn into a dangerous weapon in the hands of man. Determining the status of artificial intelligence and giving it a certain responsibility (if recognized as a subject of legal relations), there is a high probability of abuse by a person, which is expressed in shifting responsibility to artificial intelligence.

Therefore, the answer to the question of the need to endow artificial intelligence with legal personality, taking into account the analysis of all the consequences and risks, is rather negative. However, definitely, the legislator needs to establish a detailed legal regulation of activities, including a detailed study of the issue of holding accountable for the actions of artificial intelligence before a serious progressive development of the capabilities of technology.