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Contribution to Book
The application of traditional tort theory to embodied machine intelligence
Robot Law (2013)
  • Curtis E.A. Karnow
This note discusses the traditional tort theories of liability such as negligence and strict liability and suggests these are likely insufficient to impose liability on legal entities (people and companies) selling or employing autonomous robots. I provide the essential working definitions of ‘autonomous’ as well as the legal notion of ‘foreseeability’ which lies at the heart of tort liability. The note is not concerned with the policy, ethics, or other issues arising from the use of robots including armed and unarmed drones, because those, as I define them, are not currently autonomous, and do not implicate the legal issues I discuss. I conclude with some speculation on how the actions of robotic intelligence may become susceptible to traditional tort law, and in doing so change the way in which those legal tests are applied. The final version of this work is found as a chapter in ROBOT LAW (2016).
  • tort,
  • robotics,
  • AI,
  • drone
Publication Date
R. Calo, et al.
Elgar Publishing
Citation Information
Curtis E.A. Karnow. 2013. "The application of traditional tort theory to embodied machine intelligence," republished in ROBOT LAW (forthcoming Fall 2015) The SelectedWorks of Curtis E.A. Karnow Available at: