A paper from an associate professor at the University of Iowa, College of Law published by the New York University School of Law says that as corporate operations become increasingly automated, algorithms will come to replace employees as the leading cause of corporate harm. However, it says, the law is not equipped for this development. The author says that an article he is to publish will spell out the challenge automation poses for corporate law. The root of the problem, he says, is that the law has nothing to say when automated systems are responsible for the “thinking” (mens rea) behind corporate misconduct. Algorithms are not employees, nor do they have independent mental states. He suggests that the ideal solution would find a way to treat corporations the same regardless of whether algorithms or employees are involved. He concludes that corporate automation is inevitable and desirable, but we should not allow it to compromise our ability to hold corporations accountable when they break the law.
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