179 Citations (SciVal)


Conferring legal personhood on purely synthetic entities is a very real legal possibility, one under consideration presently by the European Union. We show here that such legislative action would be morally unnecessary and legally troublesome. While AI legal personhood may have emotional or economic appeal, so do many superficially desirable hazards against which the law protects us. We review the utility and history of legal fictions of personhood,
discussing salient precedents where such fictions resulted in abuse or incoherence. We conclude that difficulties in holding “electronic persons” accountable when they violate the rights of others outweigh the highly precarious
moral interests AI legal personhood might protect.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-291
Number of pages19
JournalArtificial Intelligence and Law
Issue number3
Early online date8 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2017


  • international organisations
  • Legal personality
  • artificial intelligence
  • robots
  • legal agency
  • moral subject
  • ethics


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