UCL Faculty of Laws


Research by Dr Paul Burgess on AI and legal personhood cited in speech by Lord Sales

26 November 2019

The speech on AI and the law was delivered by The Right Honourable Lord Sales, Justice of the Supreme Court, at the Sir Henry Brooke Lecture for BAILII on 12th November.

Paul Burgess

A journal article co-authored by Dr Paul Burgess (Senior Teaching Fellow in Public Law & Human Rights Law at UCL Laws), and Dr Jiahong Chen (University of Nottingham) was cited by Lord Sales in a speech entitled ‘Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and the Law’.

The paper, entitled 'The boundaries of legal personhood: how spontaneous intelligence can problematise differences between humans, artificial intelligence, companies and animals',  aims to identify the way in which various forms of legal personhood can be differentiated from one another by comparing these entities with a hypothetical situation in which intelligence spontaneously evolves, without human design, within the internet: spontaneous intelligence (“SI”). 

The paper was cited in the speech when Lord Sales discussed how sophisticated AIs could be given legal personhood, while recognising the challenges posed by how diverse the different types of AI are. A transcript of the speech is available to read on the Supreme Court website.