Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and autonomous vehicle technologies (“AVT”) have the potential to redefine how the aviation industry operates.  While the operational changes that these technologies will bring are being widely explored, the legal issues raised by their rapid introduction into the industry are not.  In this two part series, we will be looking at applications for AI in aviation and its effect on the legal liability and regulation of those who use it. See Part 1 here.

What are the legal issues?

The most interesting legal issue surrounding these technologies will not emerge unless and until a robot or other type of machine becomes self-aware.  At that point, the world will have to deal with many ethical and philosophical questions that are well beyond the scope of this article.  Many countries and governmental entities, however, are already on the road to regulating other aspects of AI.

Even though many of the emerging legal issues are starting to be recognized, one thing is certain:  The law will significantly lag, not anticipate, the legal issues brought forth by this rapidly evolving technology because AI computes faster than legislatures can act.  We can say that with metaphysical certainty because the law is always slow to adapt to technology, especially technologies changing as quickly as AI and AVT.  That lag is where attorneys, who find themselves dealing with these issues, will earn their money and make a little legal history.
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Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and autonomous vehicle technologies (“AVT”) have the potential to redefine how the aviation industry operates.  While the operational changes that these technologies will bring are being widely explored, the legal issues raised by their rapid introduction into the industry are not.  In this two part series, we will be looking at applications for AI in aviation and its effect on the legal liability and regulation of those who use it. 

What is it and how is it used?

What is artificial intelligence?

No one agrees on the definition of AI.  While the term dates to 1955, it continues to conjure thoughts of HAL from 2001, or Skynet from James Cameron’s Terminator movies.[1]  In reality, AI generally refers to algorithms and related statistical methods aimed at imitating (or exceeding) human reasoning, pattern recognition, problem solving and learning capabilities.

Modern “AI” algorithms are hungry for data.  They rely on massive amounts of information (generally referred to as “big data”) to drive a mathematical “training” process called “machine learning.”  Once these algorithms have been “trained,” they can quickly identify patterns, changes, and solve problems present in the processed data, provided that the underlying algorithm is designed to detect such patterns and changes, or to solve such problems.
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