Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a new concept. The world of technology is changing rapidly. With computers and robots replacing simple human activities, the significance of AI has a greater bearing in the world today. It has become more of a scientific reality and less fiction. AI, can be simply understood as the capability of a machine to replicate human intelligence; which includes the processes of learning, reasoning, planning, problem solving and self-correction.The concept of AI encompasses multiple disciplines that frequently overlap, for example it draws upon knowledge and techniques from mathematics, statistics, computer science and domain-specific know-how to create models, software programs, etc.


  • The Constitution of India provides the basic legal framework which distributes rights and obligations to persons, citizens, or government.  AI imitates human intelligence however they lack corporal existence and are not regarded as entities that have rights in the conventional sense which is provided to other legal beings. Unfortunately the judiciary still has to adjudicate upon the legal position of AI machines; i.e. whether they can be treated as persons or not.
  • Another area where the impact of AI is felt is in the field of Intellectual Property (IP). The question of allocation of IP rights to AI is a matter of substantial interest. For example Copyright is a right which is given in India to the author or creator of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic work. Up until now copyright has been granted only to natural or legal persons, not any machine or tool used for creating any original work. Hence amendments to IPR laws are to be made in order to overcome this lacuna, in relation to AI.
  • The next area of concern is the question on the ability of AI to execute and be bound by contracts.

Under Indian law only a “legal person” can be competent to enter a valid contract. Since AI is not yet qualified as a legal person, a contract entered into by an AI of its own volition will not be considered valid in India.

  • We see yet another lacuna in the law when the question of liability arises. Who will be responsible in the event of a failure of AI? For example when the technology of automated cars (self-driven cars) is released and in the event of an accident then who will be liable; the AI system manufacturers, or the owners? Even though there are steps taken to address the lacunae under law with regard to AI on the lines of “strict product liability’, issues pertaining to determining the actual manufacturer / owner of the AI due to the extent of automation involved and the enforcement of liability against AI still exists. The tedious task for developing legal jurisprudence in this field is yet to be undertaken.
  • Apart from the issues mentioned above concerns regarding data protection, cyber-attacks are on the forefront. Questions regarding how civil or criminal liability can be imposed; what type of punishment can be implemented against AI; whether income tax (which is imposed on a “person”) can be imposed on AI?; are other areas of concern.


  • In India, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce had constituted an 18 member task force, comprising of experts, academics, researchers and industry leaders, along with the active participation of governmental bodies / ministries such as NITI Aayog, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Department of Science & Technology, UIDAI and DRDO in August 2017, titled “Task force on AI for India’s Economic Transformation”, chaired by V. Kamakoti, a professor at IIT Madras, to discover possibilities to control and implementation of AI for development across various fields.
  • The report created by the task force had identified the following major challenges in deploying AI systems on a large scale basis in India:
    (i) Encouraging data collection, archiving with adequate safeguards,
    (ii) Ensuring data security, protection, privacy and ethical safeguards via regulatory and technological frameworks;
    (iii) Digitization of systems whilst providing adequate protection from cyber-attacks and Deployment of autonomous products whilst ensuring that the impact on employment and safety is mitigated.
    (iv) Set up and fund an “Inter – Ministerial National Artificial Intelligence Mission”, for a period of 5 years, with funding of around INR 1200 Crores, to act as a nodal agency to co-ordinate all AI related activities in India.
  • Based on the recommendations of the task force the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has constituted four committees on 25/09/2018, covering all the aspects of AI in order to create a policy framework and to develop the ecosystem for Artificial Intelligence. These Committees are:

(i) Committee on platforms and data for AI,

(ii) Committee on Leveraging AI for identifying National Missions in Key Sectors,

(iii) Committee on Mapping Technological capabilities, Key policy enablers, Skilling, Re-skilling, R&D

(iv) Committee on Cybersecurity, Safety, Legal and Ethical issues.

However the effectiveness of these committees and the development of the legal jurisprudence with regards to AI is yet to be seen.


The increase in automated machines, robots in various economic and social sectors has created a means of reducing workload in an individual’s and industrial’s daily regime. However the growth, development and investment in AI is limited due to the vacuum in the legal system. The concept of AI raises moral and ethical issues which also factor in impeding its development. Hence regulators have to undertake a balanced approach by protecting the rights of citizens / individuals on the one hand and the necessity to promote technological growth. The regulators should also provide clarity regarding the safeguards and ethical standards to be maintained while creating AI or robotic systems.

By |2018-11-18T13:14:20+00:00November 18th, 2018|General|

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