Legal considerations on the Internet of things: 2015 and beyond - part 7: Conclusions

23 March 2015

Roberto Camilli

IOT is a very promising and interesting new area of business, as well as an incredible opportunity to provide new services and improve the quality of existing ones. It is a complex and unregulated area, which will need new dedicated legislation to thrive and develop.

Although prominent scientists have already issued warnings over the risk of developing intelligent systems and artificial intelligence (Stephen Hawking mentioned this in a recent interview ), it is probably too early to consider apocalyptic science fiction scenarios, where machines and intelligent systems take control of the world and start ruling over the human race.

It is clear however that some ethical and philosophical aspects already need to be taken into consideration. Intelligent systems, enabled by powerful and disseminated computing power, will eventually have to be programmed taking some ethical choices and thinking about the fact that they will possibly acquire a certain level of awareness.

These systems will have to interact with humans, and provide services, safety and information and will therefore have to be extremely reliable and safe.

IOT systems will have to be programmed to prevent us from being harmed, and  this inevitably implies intelligent, ethical choices. Think for example of an automated transport system that will have to decide in a fraction of a second which route to choose between one where a couple of human beings will likely be harmed and one where more humans could possibly be harmed.

Or a safety system that will have to take a decision between shutting down a section of a factory to prevent an explosion, knowing that some human beings are still in that section and will inevitably be harmed by this action.

These are all new and interesting legal and ethical challenges that we will have to consider, and knowing the speed at which technology is developing, now is the clearly moment to start thinking about these aspects, to help this revolution develop in the correct way.


Read the rest of the series

Follow us at @TwobirdsTech to keep up to date with the series and more legal insights from Bird & Bird.