The aim of this article is to inquire whether contract law can operate in a state of affairs in which artificial general intelligence (AGI) exists and has the cognitive abilities to interact with humans to exchange promises or otherwise engage in the sorts of exchanges typically governed by contract law. AGI is a long way off but its emergence may be sudden and come in the lifetimes of some people alive today. How might contract law adapt to a situation in which at least one of the contract parties could, from the standpoint of capacity to engage in promising and exchange, be an AGI? This is not a situation in which AI operates as an agent of a human or a firm, a frequent occurrence right now. Rather, the question is whether an AGI could constitute a principal – a contract party on its own. Contract law is a good place to start a discussion about adapting the law for an AGI future because it already incorporates a version of what is known as weak AI in its objective standard for contract formation and interpretation. Contract law in some limited sense takes on issues of relevance from philosophy of mind. AGI holds the potential to transform a solution to an epistemological problem of how to prove a contract exists into solution to an ontological problem about the capacity to contract. An objection might be that contract law presupposes the existence of a person the law recognizes as possessing the capacity to contract. Contract law itself may not be able to answer the prior question of legally recognized personhood. The answer will be to focus on how AGI cognitive architecture could be designed for compatibility for human interaction. This article focuses on that question as well.
24 UNIF. L. REV. 330
Uniform Law Review