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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Robotics, AI and the Law (LAWS11374)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course introduces students to the legal and wider regulatory issues raised by the increasing use of automated and autonomous devices. As we increasingly allow machines to make decisions for us, this raises significant problems for our legal concepts of liability, responsibility legal personhood.

In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the specific legal issues that are created by a number of particularly important applications of robotics and autonomous agent technology, students will also acquire a generic understanding of the types of problems that are raised by autonomous technologies for the theory of regulation. They will gain an understanding of the limits of regulation by law and the ability to evaluate comparatively other modes of regulation for a given problem.

Course description Do we need law to prevent the 'robot uprising' beloved by SF writers? Since robots rely on sensors to perform their tasks, they also raise issues of data protection and privacy. The legal issues raised by autonomous agents that conclude contracts online on behalf of their owner will be discussed, as will be the regulatory issues of care/companion robots in a medical setting, self-driving cars and the automated city; and military applications such as drones. The course covers both embodied artificial intelligent systems (robots) and non-embodied devices (autonomous agents) Legal ramifications of these technologies are studied also with a view on their political, economic and ethical implications. Special attention will be given to efforts to create an international legal regime and associated proposals to standardise certain legal responses to robot technology globally.

This is a rapidly moving field, and one aim is to equip students with the skills to follow the regulatory debate, evaluate proposals and decide if their home jurisdiction can benefit from developments elsewhere. It also gives them the skills necessary to work with computer scientists, to read technical literature to the extend that this is needed for a legal evaluation, and to ask them the right type of questions

Outline content
The course will cover amongst other topics:
* The History of Robots and their Regulation
* Science of Robotics: Basic concepts and ideas
* Introduction to Artificial Intelligence for lawyers
* Unembodied AI and private law: automated contract formation, online auctions and the question of legal personhood
* Unembodied AI and criminal law: online surveillance and privacy in an age of robotics
* Embodied AI: Driverless Cars
* Embodied AI: Drones and other military applications: Robots in the law of armed conflicts
* Embodied AI: Care robots and the elderly: medical law and ethics meets robotics
* Robots and Creativity - the IP implications of robotics
* What the future may bring: emergent themes in Robotics and the law

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Powerpoint presentation (slides only) 20%
4000 word essay, 80%
Feedback Students will receive verbal feedback during class participation. There will be in addition two pieces of formative assessment s, each one preceding one of the summative assessments. In the first formative assessment (that prepares students for the 20% summative activity), students will have the opportunity to train their ability to identify pertinent literature from a discipline/jurisdiction other than their own and evaluate its authoritativeness. In the second formative assessment, the week's topic will be introduced in the form of an essay question. Students will be invited to develop a research strategy and essay structure to tackle it, which will then be discussed in class as a 'feed forward' to the 80% essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the different modes of regulation that are available for regulators tackling autonomous technologies and their interaction, so that they can evaluated efficiency, proportionality and necessity of existing or suggested regulation
  2. have acquired the skill to carry out independent research in the intersection between law and technology, including an ability to work in multidisciplinary groups with disciplines and legal cultures other than their own, and to communicate their findings to audiences from a range of disciplinary and jurisdictional backgrounds.
  3. have gained a broad understanding of the legal issues created by autonomous technologies ,extensive knowledge of existing legal responses to them, and a rigorous understanding of the interaction between economic, psychological, political , societal and ethical issues that regulators face now and in the near future when dealing with autonomous technologies
  4. form and defend with arguments, opinions in fields where the law is not yet settled, develop creative solutions to current social and legal problems and mediate between conflicting interests and value commitments, using computer enhanced communication tools such as wikis and other social media tools
Reading List
Isaac Asimov, I, Robot, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1950.
Lin, Patrick, Keith Abney, and George A. Bekey. Robot ethics: the ethical and social implications of robotics. MIT Press, 2011.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of this course, students will:

* Develop original and creative responses to problems
* work in heterogeneous teams to tight deadlines and co-ordinate efforts towards a joint task
* Communicate with other students (including students from different cultures, academic and otherwise) , policy makers, scientific experts and advisors
* numeracy, programming and IT skills necessary to read technical literature from computer science to the degree necessary to identify any pertinent legal issues
Keywordsartificial intelligence,robotics,law,regulation,Science and Technology in Society
Course organiserProf Burkhard Schafer
Tel: (0131 6)50 2035
Course secretaryMs Florence Finlayson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9588
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