Can Robots ever be Found Guilty under Criminal Law?

With robots and AI conquering our world, not only specific legal regulations but also a rethinking of the very nature of legal institutions and their philosophical foundation can become necessary. In criminal law, these changes can particularly affect the understanding of personal responsibility. The question if robots can ever be found guilty is closely related to the prevailing understanding of blameworthiness in society. In their contribution to the Criminal Law Forum, Monika Simmler and Nora Markwalder present an overview of different potential scenarios of criminal liability in the context of robotics. Discussing the conditions of “guilty robots”, they reveal that criminal culpability is inherently socially constructed, however not randomly constituted. Robots’ liability would thus require that robots are regarded as suitable agents of responsibility. The article lights up the conditions for such social and legal change, concluding that a guilty robot, as fictional as that appears today, may be nothing unrealistic nor unlikely in the future. The article with the title “Guilty Robots? – Rethinking the Nature of Culpability and Legal Personhood in an Age of Artificial Intelligence” can be downloaded via Springer.