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Legal Issues regarding Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Computing

Esther Lin/Veda Chen

The world was astounded in 2017 when AlphaGo developed by Google DeepMind crossed a new threshold in artificial intelligence by besting the top human Go players on the planet. Led by Elon Musk, Tesla has invested substantially in research and development on automatic driving technology and made major breakthroughs. Artificial intelligence is no longer just a topic in fiction or film. It has gradually become a part of people's daily lives.


According to Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Intelligent Machines published in 1990, artificial intelligence (AI) refers to technology that realizes machines which can accomplish tasks that may otherwise require human intelligence. Stanford University proposed in a 2016 report "AI and Life in 2030" that artificial intelligence has already been applied to at least eight fields: transportation, home/service robots, healthcare, education, low-resource communities, public safety and security, employment and workplace, and entertainment. AI has become more common in daily life.


Artificial intelligence undoubtedly made our life more convenient.  However, it has inevitably given rise to new legal controversies. The abovementioned Stanford University report raises questions about how to protect privacy rights when artificial intelligence becomes even more central in people's daily lives. For instance, the decisions and predictions made by artificial intelligence may reveal private information. Some companies are already running computer programs to predict credit risk, for example. In criminal cases, if artificial intelligence is involved in any acts that meet the requirement of articles in the criminal law, courts and law enforcement officers are confronted with perplexing dilemmas over whether artificial intelligence can be held accountable and what theory to adopt for accountability. Furthermore, as artificial intelligence is expected to replace human labor, controversies related to right to work will arise.


In Taiwan, there has been much discussion of the legal controversies arising from artificial intelligence, for instance, its impact on modern law. For example, can artificial intelligence be defined as a legally prescribed "person"? Can it own rights and assume obligations? From the perspective of public law, when artificial intelligence replaces or assists civil servants (such as police officers) in implementing public power in the future, how can we certify that artificial intelligence is able to assume the responsibility and obligation of one who exercises public authority?  The above legal issues can be discussed.


Cloud computing, a rapidly developing field, is partly responsible for enabling the impressive results achieved by artificial intelligence. Defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cloud computing is an easy, on-demand operational model that enables access to shared computing resource pools such as the Internet, servers, storage space, applications and services through ubiquitous networking. Only minimal management operations and supplier involvement are required to quickly allocate and release computing resources. Big data and complex computing can be handled efficiently on the cloud. Various media also reported that the leading technology companies are already targeting the business opportunities in and arising from cloud computing and began to plan for the future.


Cloud computing raises legal issues such as the ownership of files, protection of individual privacy and protection of personal data. Which domestic laws and regulations should apply for the transmission and management of data? Who owns the files edited on shared software resources? Do the intellectual property rights of the said files belong to providers of the software and hardware or the editors? If a file that contains personal information or business trade secret is leaked or corrupted owing to the use of cloud computing services, which party should take the risk and assume responsibility? When can the provider disclaim responsibility? How can users claim compensation? These are also the issues that arise with the advent of cloud computing.


As technology flourishes and progresses, industries adapt and change swiftly. It is important to keep track of how laws and regulations react to emerging technologies in the modern society.