Estonia considering new legal status for artificial intelligence

Science & Technology Law

Siim Sikkut

Siim Sikkut, the chief innovation officer of Estonia. Wikimedia Commons.

Estonia is considering a legal status for artificial intelligence beyond property.

The Baltic nation’s Economy Ministry, according to a report from Bloomberg, is considering a “robot-agent” status that would give certain AI a legal standing between personhood and property. Siim Sikkut, the chief innovation officer of Estonia, said he also sees advantages to giving AI the same legal status as a person.

Currently, Sikkut said he is working on quelling myths and stereotypes about AI, “like that robots are taking over everything or that we’re going too far with computerization.”

It is currently unclear if any of the proposals have the political support needed to become law. Triniti, a pan-Baltic law firm contracted by the ministry to provide legal analysis on this proposal, said that creating personhood for a robot “goes against Europe’s humanist history of law,” according to Bloomberg.

Sikkut said that he hopes that whatever draft moves forward will become law “within a couple of years.”

Estonia has long been a pioneer in government and technology. The country that gave the world Skype was the first to hold a national election online, institute a paperless government, which has cabinet ministers working from tablets, and create e-Residency, a program that allows foreign nationals to connect to Estonia’s digital government and banking infrastructure.

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