it’s an opportunity to ensure these ‘artificial persons’ follow the law
by Daniel Gervais, Vanderbilt University and John Nay, Stanford University
Only “persons” can engage with the legal system – for example, by signing contracts or filing lawsuits. There are two main categories of persons: humans, termed “natural persons,” and creations of the law, termed “artificial persons.” These include corporations, nonprofit organizations and limited liability companies (LLCs).
Up to now, artificial persons have served the purpose of helping humans achieve certain goals. For example, people can pool assets in a corporation and limit their liability vis-à-vis customers or other persons who interact with the corporation. But a new type of artificial person is poised to enter the scene – artificial intelligence systems, and they won’t necessarily serve human interests.
As scholarswho study AI and law, we believe that this moment presents a significant challenge to the legal system: how to regulate AI within existing legal frameworks to reduce undesirable behaviors, and how to assign legal responsibility for autonomous actions of AIs.
This is far from a philosophical question. The laws governing LLCs in several U.S. states do not require that humans oversee the operations of an LLC. In fact, in some states, it is possible to have an LLC with no human owner, or “member” – for example, in cases where all of the partners have died. Though legislators probably weren’t thinking of AI when they crafted the LLC laws, the possibility for zero-member LLCs opens the door to creating LLCs operated by AIs.
Many functions inside small and large companies have already been delegated to AI in part, including financial operations, human resources and network management, to name just three. AIs can now perform many tasks as well as humans do. For example, AIs can read medical X-rays and do other medical tasks, and carry out tasks that require legal reasoning. This process is likely to accelerate due to innovation and economic interests.
A different kind of person
Humans have occasionally included nonhuman entities like animals, lakes, and rivers, as well as corporations, as legal subjects. Though in some cases these entities can be held liable for their actions, the law only allows humans to fully participate in the legal system.
One major barrier to full access to the legal system by nonhuman entities has been the role of language as a uniquely human invention and a vital element in the legal system. Language enables humans to understand norms and institutions that constitute the legal framework. But humans are no longer the only entities using human language.
An LLC established in a jurisdiction that allows it to operate without human members could trade in digital currencies settled on blockchains, allowing the AI running the LLC to operate autonomously and in a decentralized manner that makes it challenging to regulate. Under a legal principle known as the internal affairs doctrine, even if only one U.S. state allowed AI-operated LLCs, that entity could operate nationwide – and possibly worldwide. This is because courts look to the law of the state of incorporation for rules governing the internal affairs of a corporate entity.
We believe the best path forward, therefore, is aligning AI with existing laws, instead of creating a separate set of rules for AI. Additional law can be layered on top for artificial agents, but AI should be subject to at least all the laws a human is subject to.
In addition to embedding law into AI agents, researchers can develop AI compliance agents – AIs designed to help an organization automatically follow the law. These specialized AI systems would provide third-party legal guardrails.
Researchers can develop better AI legal compliance by fine-tuning large language models with supervised learning on labeled legal task completions. Another approach is reinforcement learning, which uses feedback to tell an AI if it’s doing a good or bad job – in this case, attorneys interacting with language models. And legal experts could design prompting schemes – ways of interacting with a language model – to elicit better responses from language models that are more consistent with legal standards.
Law-abiding (artificial) business owners
If an LLC were operated by an AI, it would have to obey the law like any other LLC, and courts could order it to pay damages, or stop doing something by issuing an injunction. An AI tasked with operating the LLC and, among other things, maintaining proper business insurance would have an incentive to understand applicable laws and comply. Having minimum business liability insurance policies is a standard requirement that most businesses impose on one another to engage in commercial relationships.
The incentives to establish AI-operated LLCs are there. Fortunately, we believe it is possible and desirable to do the work to embed the law – what has until now been human law – into AI, and AI-powered automated compliance guardrails.
As a sociologist, I wanted to understand why this is. So I spent more than 10 years interviewing over 200 Black workers in a variety of roles – from the gig economy to the C-suite. I found that many of the problems they face come down to organizational culture. Too often, companies elevate diversity as a concept but overlook the internal processes that disadvantage Black workers.
Take “Constance,” for example – not her real name – who is a Black female chemical engineering professor at a major research university. Her university proclaims its commitment to diversity and inclusion, with several offices and initiatives dedicated to this goal.
Yet she told me that most leaders at her school are uncomfortable trying to achieve racial diversity. They’d rather be “colorblind” – that is, they’d rather not acknowledge or address racial disparities or the institutional rules and norms that perpetuate them. So their attempts to pursue diversity translate into attempts to hire more women faculty but not more Black faculty.
“Kevin” offers another instructive example. He’s a Black man who works at an education nonprofit that aims to help kids – a laudable goal. His workplace touts its culture of collaboration and says that it demonstrates its commitment to diversity by supporting children from all backgrounds.
But in practice, Kevin found that the organization often shunned and patronized Black parents, treating them disrespectfully. And despite his employer’s stated support for diversity, Kevin says his efforts to highlight these problems usually went ignored.
And then there’s “Brian.” A film producer with extensive Hollywood experience, Brian was excited about taking a job with a major studio. He thought it would give him an opportunity to bring more films about the variety of Black experience to audiences. And since studio leaders talked a big game about innovation, creativity and original thinking, this seemed like a reasonable assumption.
But once he started in this role, Brian learned that the studio was dominated by a market-driven culture, which leaders used to justify not investing in films by and about Black people. Importantly, the same logic around Black filmmakers rarely seemed to apply to white ones, Brian said – those who directed flops were still given multiple chances to keep working. Pointing out this hypocrisy failed to change minds or practices, Brian found.
When a DEI statement isn’t enough
What do these three people, working in very different industries, have in common? They all work for employers that have a stated commitment to diversity – and an organizational culture that belies and even undermines it.
When these companies commit to diversity but fail to tackle racial diversity specifically, it becomes easy for workers like Constance, Kevin and Brian to find that the issues they experience get overlooked and that there’s no effective way to bring them forward. They get stuck in the gray areas.
Israel and the United States will find themselves on the wrong side of history because of the atrocities being committed in the Gaza Strip. As this is being written, the death toll in Gaza surpassed 5,700, and 2,300 of those were children, this number doesn't include those still buried under the rubble of buildings destroyed by missiles.
First, let me state that I am not anti-Semitic! Anyone who disagrees with anything that Israel does is labeled as such. I have long admired Jewish success or dominance in certain industries such as banking, entertainment, law, and science among others despite Jews being less than 1% (.2%) of the world's population. One of my favorite books is "The Secret War Against the Jews". I can't say for sure, but I believe it was that book that explained how Jewish males were required to read to Torah. The Jewish people had a literacy head start of about two thousand years, one of the reasons for their success.
Before going any further, it is important to understand the history of Palestine and Israel. Prior to WWII, the land now occupied by Israel was Palestine. The land was under British control and they allowed the UN to decide how to divide Palestinian land and give a majority of it to Israel. Below is a video that provides a brief history of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Imagine the United States decides to allow some refugees to come to America and then comes to your home and divides a portion of your home for refugees and a smaller portion for you and your family. Then let's say the refugees decide they need more space and take an even larger portion of your home by force, preventing you from moving about freely, and deciding when and what you can bring home. That's what happened in Palestine.
I hadn't planned on commenting on this topic until I saw that the City of St. Louis was considering a proclamation of solidarity with Israel which in my opinion a proclamation approving Apartheid and Genocide!
It was bad enough that President Bidden pledged U.S. solidarity and weapons support to Israel after it had committed war crimes by targeting civilians, but the fact that St. Louis was blindly jumping on the bandwagon was the final straw.
Last year, Amnesty International called Israel's Apartheid, "a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity". Two years ago, Human Rights Watch, commented about Israel's crimes of Apartheid and persecution. The United Nations recently expressed concerns about Israel committing the crimes of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
During a 2013 speech in Jerusalem, President Obama counseled Israelis to "look at the world through" the eyes of Palestinians and recognize that "Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer – just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own. Obama's speech below is set to start at 31 minutes and 40 seconds of the video where he talks about Palestine, however, feel free to watch the entire video.
The Palestinian oppression issue is so clear that hundreds of Jewish protestors in D.C. wearing T-shirts with the slogan, "not in our name", demanded that Congress pass a cease-fire resolution in the Israel-Gaza war amid an intensifying humanitarian crisis. They stated they didn't want to see atrocities committed against Palestinians in their name. Award-winning Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy, whose recent column for Haaretz states the obvious in the headline “Israel Can’t Imprison Two Million Gazans Without Paying a Cruel Price.”
I don't condone Hamas' surprise attack on October 7th. Peaceful resolutions are always preferred, but as I have stated, "It's foolish to let your oppressor tell you that you should forget about the oppression that they inflicted upon you". It's equally foolish for your oppressor to dictate how you should respond to that oppression.
Remember that Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) were considered terrorists. Mandela was not removed from the U.S. Terror Watch List until 2008. The oppressor sees a terrorist when the oppressed see a freedom fighter!
"A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle, and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a point, one can only fight fire with fire." – From Mandela's book, "Long Walk to Freedom"
As the conflicts between Israel and Palestine and Russia and Ukraine continue, remember, "War is a Racket", there is no greater profit generator than war. Remember what President Eisenhower said before leaving office, "Beware of the Military Industrial Complex". Those who make weapons and profit off conflict don't want peace, they want to sell more guns, bombs, ammo, planes, tanks, and other machinery of war.
The month before Kim Gardner was sworn in, I published an article that made the following prediction: "Make no mistake, if Ms. Gardner proves to be a fair prosecutor, there will certainly be those that will attempt to distort her statements, vilify her actions and generally discredit her. There is a private prison system that stands to lose millions of dollars under a non-oppressive system."
The oppression of African-Americans is big business. Police officers often earn six figures annually, judges, prison food service, prison guards, probation officers, tech companies that supply ankle monitoring systems, and a multitude of others make their living and profits because of the continuing oppression of others. Take away the oppression and their income is taken away. Oppression and racism are big business, and always have been!
Article by Jeremy Kohler
After the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the months of protests that followed, the city of St. Louis was forced to reckon with its Black residents’ longstanding distrust of its police and courts.
Kim Gardner emerged as a voice for change. A lifelong resident of St. Louis, she had diverse professional experiences, having worked as a funeral director, a nurse, a lawyer, and a state legislator. When campaigning for circuit attorney, the city’s top prosecutor, she focused on the disproportionate frequency of arrests and police officers using force against St. Louis’ Black community.
“We need to change decades of old practices that left many in our community distrustful of the criminal justice system as a whole,” she told The St. Louis American, the city’s Black newspaper, just days before her decisive primary victory in August 2016 that all but sealed her general election win.
In the last decade, prosecutors in other major American cities also campaigned on promises of systemic reform: Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Chesa Boudin in San Francisco.
Yet, much like Gardner, these prosecutors have faced resistance from the police and the unions that represent rank-and-file officers. They’ve been accused of being soft on crime and have even been met with political maneuvers aimed at derailing their initiatives. Several have been targeted by efforts to remove them from office or pare away their powers.
Boudin lost a recall vote and was removed in June 2022. And Krasner, criticized for his reduced emphasis on prosecuting minor crimes, was impeached by the state legislature in November, although a state court threw out the result.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has removed elected prosecutors in Tampa and Orlando. He suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren over Warren’s refusal to prosecute offenses related to abortion and gender-related health care. He suspended the state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, Monique Worrell, because he said she wasn’t tough enough on some serious offenses.
Georgia recently became the first state to establish a commission with the authority to discipline and even remove local elected prosecutors. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp framed the law as a way to check “far-left prosecutors.”
Gardner, who was reelected in 2020, stepped down in May of 2023 while facing both a lawsuit from the state attorney general that sought her removal and a separate attempt by the Republican-led legislature to curtail her authority. Gardner’s mismanagement of her office played a significant role in her downfall. Reform-minded lawyers who she personally hired had departed. And while judges fumed about prosecutors failing to show up for court, Gardner was moonlighting as a nursing student.
“For every progressive prosecutor who’s managed to stick it out, there’s one who’s either been recalled or driven out,” said Lara Bazelon, a University of San Francisco law school professor who volunteered on Boudin’s campaign and serves as chair of the commission he created to review inmates’ claims of innocence. “So it’s a real mix of success and cautionary tales.”
She added: “If the police are against you, or literally out to get you, you’re probably not going to be able to last in that job.”
Foxx, elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020, announced in April that she will not seek a third term next year, though she said it was not because of resistance from the police. In an interview, Foxx said that even before she took office, the Chicago police union felt threatened by her assertion that Black lives matter and that the criminal justice system could be more fair, particularly to communities of color.
It was a signal, she said, “that I was not one of them.”
“The reality is we were offering something very different to what was traditionally viewed as the law-and-order approach to prosecution,” Foxx said. “I think it was surprising to folks that prosecutors could be elected addressing these issues.”
R. Michael Cassidy, a law professor at Boston College and an expert in prosecutorial ethics, said the Ferguson unrest emphasized the need for change in how police and prosecutors work. He said some prosecutors have failed to manage their relationships with police; prosecutors depend on the officers to bring them cases and to testify in court, but they must conduct oversight of the police as well.
Foxx pushed back against any assertion that she didn’t manage her relationship with police. She pointed to a popular Chicago police blog that often refers to her as “Crimesha” — “a play on the word ‘crime’ and what I believe to be a racist insinuation about me being Black with the name ‘-esha.’” The blog has also sexualized her last name by adding a third X and has insinuated that members of her family are connected to gangs.
“From the moment we came into office, we reached out to our partners in law enforcement, and what we saw was there was a segment of them who were never going to be satisfied with me in this role because I said ‘Black lives matter,’ because I said ‘We need police accountability,’ because I said that we had a criminal justice system that overly relied on incarceration that targeted Black and brown communities,” she said.
She said that she, Gardner, and other prosecutors “have been faced with an unprecedented level of hate and vitriol” from the police.
“That,” she said, “is the story.”
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara and other union officials did not respond to requests for comment. But Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2020 that the union’s complaints about Foxx were based on her job performance. He said she was a “social activist in an elected law enforcement position” who was unwilling to “faithfully do her job.”
But as property crime rates climbed in San Francisco, Boudin came under increased scrutiny.
Cassidy said Boudin and other like-minded prosecutors have been scapegoated for isolated incidents or temporary spikes in crime statistics, as if they alone are responsible. In some cities, that has swung public opinion against them.
Boudin said the claims were unfair and largely the product of police resistance to his reforms.
“We’ve seen, on body-worn camera footage, police officers telling victims there’s nothing they can do and, ‘Don’t forget to vote in the upcoming recall election,’” Boudin said in an interview.
Boudin said he and other local prosecutors have found “there is absolutely zero accountability for these officers who engage in explicitly political acts of sabotage or dereliction of duty.”
A spokesperson for the San Francisco police union declined to comment.
Some prosecutors have held onto their positions despite challenges to their power. In November, veteran public defender Mary Moriarty was elected county attorney for the jurisdiction that includes Minneapolis in the first election since the death there of George Floyd. The same night, Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot was reelected by a nearly 20-point margin in spite of calls by a police union for his ouster over his plan not to prosecute certain low-level offenses.
In August 2022, Sarah George, the incumbent state’s attorney in Vermont’s Chittenden County, which includes Burlington, secured her seat with a 20-point victory in the Democratic primary over Ted Kenney, a challenger backed by the police.
George had introduced a variety of reforms, including eliminating cash bail and declining to prosecute cases where evidence was obtained during noncriminal traffic stops, like those for broken taillights. The Burlington police union called her actions “disastrous” and Kenney argued that the approach made streets less safe.
George, too, has seen police body camera video of officers blaming her for crime. In one video, which she provided to ProPublica, the Riverfront Times and NPR, an officer from a suburban police department tells a couple that officers can’t do anything about a crack house in their neighborhood. He then implores them to vote for Kenney because of George’s “super-progressive, soft-on-crime approach where we arrest the same people daily and they get out the same day.”
George said that, with some crime investigations, the police are “not really doing the work that we need to do on the case, and then blaming us for the case not being filed.”
The Burlington police union declined to comment. The chiefs of police in Burlington and Winooski, the suburb where the video was taken, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Gardner, too, often faced criticism from police for her reluctance to prosecute cases based on arrests alone. In one notable instance in 2019, she dropped child-endangerment charges against two daycare workers who were captured on video as they appeared to encourage toddlers to box using toy Incredible Hulk fists.
The police union called for her ouster, writing on Facebook: “The first rule of toddler fight club is … that you prosecute the sadistic promoters of toddler fight club.”
In comments made before her resignation, Gardner noted that she had been careful not to file criminal charges in cases where she did not feel there was enough evidence. “What they want me to do is make it look like this job is easy,” she said. “We can’t make things fit and people don’t like that. That’s not what justice is about.”
Richard Rosenfeld, a professor emeritus of criminology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, was one of several researchers who pooled data from 65 major cities and found “no evidence to support the claim that progressive prosecutors were responsible for the increase in homicide during the pandemic or before it.”
Indeed, Chicago’s murder rate fell during Foxx’s first years in office, rose during the first years of the pandemic and has been falling this year, city crime statistics show. Philadelphia’s murder rate was in steep decline this year after a precipitous rise that started in 2020. And most categories of crime were in retreat in St. Louis at the time Gardner resigned, while violent crime was up in San Francisco a year after Boudin’s exit, according to statistics.
Acknowledging that the St. Louis police commonly blamed Gardner for crime trends, Rosenfeld, a veteran observer of policing in St. Louis, said, “Case not proved, is what I would argue there.”
Republished with permission from Propublica under license.