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Artificial Persons

ASG 2021

Exploring artificial personhood, and the implications of the interaction between corporations, AIs and human beings.

Digital pixelized face. Illustration.

This Advanced Study Group will investigate ‘Artificial Persons’. In this category we will include both companies –corporate legal persons; and entities which deploy artificial intelligence (AI). Both types of entities play an ever more important role in society: Business corporations have been central elements in the creation of our modern capitalist economies; they have superhuman abilities and can deploy resources and pursue objectives beyond the reach of any human person. AI entities are of more recent pedigree, but the technology has progressed in great strides, and now entities deploying AI are able to perform highly complex tasks, can act autonomously from human input, and in ways which the human programmers cannot predict nor will be able to explain. AIs are being increasingly relied on to run processes in our societies and make decisions which profoundly affect our lives. Furthermore, the development of AI is increasingly controlled and effectuated by private corporations. Therefore, the way in which such artificial AI persons are being created and controlled is increasingly a product of the needs and objectives of artificial corporate persons. On the other hand, there are now AI systems being developed that may come to play a significant role in the management and operation of corporations. This gives rise to the possibility of artificial persons being controlled by artificial persons, which in turn are controlled by artificial persons. Such artificial persons are able to shape the preferences and modify the behaviour of human persons –of us -as consumers, as workers, even as citizens.

The objective of the Advanced Study Group is to create a setting within which researchers from a wide range of disciplines can develop their knowledge of artificial personhood, and explore the implications of the interaction between corporations, AIs and human beings through the lens of personhood.