BCLI Artificial Intelligence and Civil Liability Project


February 2023

What happens when a robot commits a tort? In the BC Law Institute’s Artificial Intelligence and Civil Liability Project, an interdisciplinary committee combining expertise in law, computer science, medicine, and engineering is considering how tort law needs to adapt to provide redress for harm caused by artificial intelligence (“AI”). AI is used now in a vast and rapidly growing range of applications. To an increasing extent, AI is taking the place of human decision-makers. AI surpasses human capabilities in some tasks, but is not infallible.

Applying common law tort principles developed in light of human reasoning and conduct to AI-related harm is far from straightforward. The nature of AI is such that harm it may cause to persons and property in pursuing its programmed objectives may be unrelated to any identifiable defect in its design, programming, or pre-deployment handling. This raises difficult legal and policy issues about causation, fault, foreseeability, and where liability should rest. BCLI will issue a consultation paper in spring 2023 on proposed reform to address these challenges, and wants to hear your views. For more information and to download the consultation paper when it is issued, visit bcli.org.