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News article8 March 2023Joint Research Centre1 min read

Liability regimes in the age of AI

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A recent Joint Research Centre (JRC) study published in the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, and presented at Predictable AI Workshop, shows the difficulties in proving causation in liability processes, due to the specific characteristics of AI, by means of representative use cases.

New emerging technologies powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) have the potential to disruptively transform our societies for the better. In particular, machine learning or data-driven approaches have been a true revolution in the advancement of multiple technologies in various application domains. But at the same time there are growing concerns about certain intrinsic characteristics of AI such as lack of causality, opacity, unpredictability or their self and continuous learning capabilities, that carry potential risks to both safety and fundamental rights.

Although there are mechanisms in the adoption process to minimize these risks (e.g., safety regulations or specific AI regulations such as the AI Act), these do not exclude the possibility of harm occurring, and if this happens, victims should be able to seek compensation. Liability regimes will therefore play a key role in ensuring basic protection for victims using or interacting with these systems.

However, the same characteristics that make AI systems inherently risky lead to considerable difficulties when it comes to proving causation.

In this work, the JRC presents case studies such as clearing robots, delivery drones and robots in education, as well as the methodology to reach them, to illustrate these difficulties. The outcome of the proposed analysis suggests the need to revise liability regimes to alleviate the burden of proof on victims in cases involving AI technologies. This conclusion is aligned with current EU proposals on the Product Liability Directive (the PLD) and the new AI Liability Directive.

This work contributed with evidence-based scientific and technical knowledge to the EU AI Liability Directive.

About the study

Title: Liability regimes in the age of AI: a use-case driven analysis of the burden of proof

Authors: David Fernández Llorca, Vicky Charisi, Ronan Hamon, Ignacio Sánchez, Emilia Gómez 

Read the publication

8 MARCH 2023
SLIDES | Liability regimes in the age of AI: a use-case driven analysis of the burden of proof



Publication date
8 March 2023
Joint Research Centre