Report Series: The Impact of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence on the Law

The Singapore Academy of Law’s Law Reform Committee has established a Subcommittee on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence to consider, and make recommendations on, the application of the law to robotic and AI systems.

As part of that work, the LRC is publishing a series of reports, each looking at a different legal area impacted by the increasingly widespread deployment of robotics and other AI-powered technologies across society.

In certain areas, the Subcommittee has identified specific recommendations for law reform. Its primary aim, however, is for the series to stimulate systematic thought and debate on these issues, not only by policy makers and legislators, but also industry, the legal profession and the public.

Published Reports

Attribution of Civil Liability for Accidents Involving Automated Cars   *NEW  The Attribution of Civil Liability for Accidents Involving Autonomous Cars (September 2020)    Rethinking Database Rights and Data Ownership   Rethinking Database Rights and Data Ownership in an AI World (July 2020)  
    Download the full report    |   Quick Guide    |   Summary of Findings q       Download the full report    |   Summary of Findings q
Ethical Principles for AI Report   Applying Ethical Principles for Artificial Intelligence in Regulatory Reform (July 2020)         
    Download the full report    |   Summary of Findings q          

Upcoming Reports on...

Criminal Liability for the Operation of AI Systems   The Application of Criminal Law to the Operation of AI Systems and

TechLaw Fest Banner   The Impact of Robotics and AI on the Law Series was at #TechLawFest 2020! Those who registered to attend can still watch back the three panel sessions showcasing the Law Reform Committee's reports here.


Civil Liability for Autonomous Vehicles Report     

The Attribution of Civil Liability for Accidents Involving Autonomous Cars (September 2020)

The much-anticipated mainstream adoption of autonomous cars is fast becoming reality. While such “self-driving” technologies are predicted to reduce drastically the number of road-traffic accidents, incidents will inevitably still occur. Questions therefore arise as to who should be liable for those accidents where they result in injury or harm, and on what legal basis.

In that context, this report:

  • Identifies how complex autonomous driving technologies can complicate the process of: identifying what caused an accident and determining who should be liable for it; establishing that party’s liability; and assessing any relevant defences;
  • Surveys the regulatory steps taken by key overseas jurisdictions (including the EU, US and Japan) to adjust their laws to accommodate the adoption of autonomous vehicles on public roads; and
  • Highlights the challenges that arise in seeking to apply each of the main existing liability frameworks - negligence, product liability and 'no-fault' liability - in the context of autonomous cars (click here for a one-minute quick guide to the key challenges under each framework). 

It is hoped that the report will assist policy makers in assessing the best future legal and regulatory scheme for Singapore, so as to encourage innovation and promote the mainstream adoption of autonomous vehicles, while also ensuring those harmed in accidents obtain effective redress.

The full report can be found here.


Ethical Principles for AI Report     

Applying Ethical Principles for Artificial Intelligence in Regulatory Reform (July 2020)

There is a growing consensus that the increasing deployment of AI systems across society, as well as bringing benefits, must also be human-centred and built on strong ethical foundations.

That, in turn, has implications for the laws and regulatory interventions that enable, guide and constrain how and where AI is deployed.

This report identifies issues that law and policy makers may face in promoting ethical principles when reforming laws and regulations to adapt to AI, and provides examples of human-centred approaches that could be taken to address these.

Specifically, the report discusses the following ethical principles:

  • Law and 
    Fundamental Interests
  • Considering AI Systems' Effects
  • Respect for Values and Culture
  • Risk Management
  • Wellbeing and Safety
  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Ethical Data Use

The report does not seek to advance specific means or level of intervention, which will necessarily vary depending on the technology and sector in question. Its purpose, however, is to provide a framework for broader consideration and discussion on the best means to achieve human-centred, ethical norm-making and calibration of regulatory responses regarding AI.

The full report can be found here.


Rethinking Database Rights and Data Ownership  

Rethinking Database Rights and Data Ownership in an AI World (July 2020)

Data and databases are central to the ongoing development and use of AI-enabled systems and technologies. At the same time, concerns remain regarding individuals' control over the use of their data by third parties.

Against that backdrop, this report considers whether key data-related laws in Singapore currently operate effectively to promote the beneficial production of, and access to, databases, while also protecting individual rights.

In particular, the report addresses:

  • who controls or has rights over the ‘big data’ databases that underpin AI technologies, including whether new, standalone intellectual property protections for databases are needed; and
  • how to ensure that those who contribute data to databases retain appropriate control over and/or access to that data, including whether to create a new right of ownership of data.

Summary of Recommendations

  • As regards databases, that:
    • Amendments are made to copyright law to expressly protect ‘computer-generated works’ that have no human author.
    • Clarification is given through guidance or subordinate legislation regarding: a) how existing ‘compilation rights’ apply to electronic databases; and b) how effective records of authorship of databases can be maintained where several people have contributed to the database’s creation.
    • Creation of a new standalone intellectual property right for databases is not required nor necessarily beneficial in the Singapore context.
  • As regards control of data, that:
    • For personal data, existing and incoming data protection laws (including in particular data portability) currently provide individuals with sufficient control over their data. 
    • For non-personal data, consideration be given to introducing a right akin to data portability. 
    • A right to ‘own’ data as property is not required, nor would it necessarily be practicable or beneficial.

The full report can be found here.  


An archive of all reports published by the Law Reform Committee can be found here