How coronavirus set the stage for a techno-future with robots and AI


The coronavirus pandemic has fast-forwarded the functions and roles of robots and artificial intelligence

Not so long ago, the concept of a fully automated store seemed something of a curiosity. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of relying on computers and robotics, and checking out groceries by simply picking them off the shelf doesn’t seem so peculiar after all.

Part of my research involves looking at how we deal with complex artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can learn and make decisions without any human involvement, and how these types of AI technologies challenge our current understanding of law and its application.

How should we govern these systems that are sometimes called disruptive, and at other times labelled transformative? I am particularly interested in whether — and how — AI technologies amplify the social injustice that exists in society. For example, unregulated facial recognition in the United States affects almost 120 million adults, with no independent testing for biased error rates; this effectively creates a virtual, perpetual line-up for law enforcement.

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