A legal analysis of human and electronic agents

Artificial Intelligence and Law 12 (1-2):111-135 (2004)
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Abstract

Currently, electronic agents are being designed and implemented that, unprecedentedly, will be capable of performing legally binding actions. These advances necessitate a thorough treatment of their legal consequences. In our paper, we first demonstrate that electronic agents behave structurally similar to human agents. Then we study how declarations of intention stated by an electronic agent are related to ordinary declarations of intention given by natural persons or legal entities, and also how the actions of electronic agents in this respect have to be classified under German law. We discuss four different approaches of classifying agent declarations. As one of these, we propose the concept of an electronic person (i.e., agents with limited liability), enrolment of agents into an agent register, and agent liability funds as means to serve the needs of all contracting parties.

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