89 Wash. L. Rev. 117 (2014)
Machines without Principals: Liability Rules and Artificial Intelligence

handle is hein.journals/washlr89 and id is 124 raw text is: MACHINES WITHOUT PRINCIPALS: LIABILITY RULES
AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
David C. Viadeck
INTRODUCTION
The idea that humans could, at some point, develop machines that
actually think for themselves and act autonomously has been
embedded in our literature and culture since the beginning of
civilization.' But these ideas were generally thought to be religious
expressions-what one scholar describes as an effort to forge our own
Gods2 -or pure science fiction. There was one important thread that tied
together these visions of a special breed of superhuman men/machines:
They invariably were stronger, smarter, and sharper analytically; that is,
superior in all respects to humans, except for those traits involving
emotional intelligence and empathy. But science fiction writers were of
two minds about the capacity of super-smart machines to make life
better for humans.
One vision was uncritically Utopian. Intelligent machines, this
account goes, would transform and enlighten society by performing the
mundane, mind-numbing work that keeps humans from pursuing higher
intellectual, spiritual, and artistic callings.3 This view was captured in
the popular animated 1960s television show The Jetsons.4 As its title
* Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center. The author wishes to thank his
Georgetown Law colleague Girardeau Spann and Perkins Coie partner Albert Gidari, Jr., for their
thoughts on the article and the staff of the Washington Law Review, especially Lauren Watts, Laura
Powell, Brooke Howlett, and Brian Epley, for their research and editorial assistance.
1. See, e.g., PAMELA MCCORDUCK, MACHINES WHO THINK: A PERSONAL INQUIRY INTO THE
HISTORY AND PROSPECTS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, at xxiii iv (2004).
2. Id. at 413.
3. See Anne Trafton, Assistive Robot Adapts to People, New Places, MIT TECHTALK, Apr. 11,
2007, at 3 (reporting developments from MIT's Humanoid Robotics Group in perfecting Domo, a
robot that can adapt to situations to assist people with everyday chores, everyday life, and everyday
work), available at http://web.mit.edulnewsoffice/2007/techtalk51-23.pdf.
4. The history of The Jetsons can be found at various websites, including, The Jetsons,
WIKIPEDIA, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The Jetsons (last visited Feb. 12, 2014), and, Hanna
Barbera Wiki, The Jetsons, WIKIA, http://hanna-barbera.wikia.com/wikilThe Jetsons (last visited
Feb. 12, 2014).

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