The UK Government says makers of driverless vehicles and other artificial intelligence systems could face jail and multi-million pound fines if their creations harm workers.
Sky News is reporting a written response from the Department for Work and Pensions which has confirmed that existing health and safety law “applies to artificial intelligence and machine learning software”.
The report says this clarifies one aspect of the law around AI, a subject of considerable debate in academic, legal and governmental circles.
Under the Health and Safety Act of 1974, directors found guilty of “consent or connivance” or neglect can face up to two years in prison.
This provision of the Health and Safety Act is “hard to prosecute,” Michael Appleby, a health and safety lawyer at Fisher Scoggins Waters told the TV channel, “because directors have to have their hands on the system.”
However, it adds, when AI systems are built by startups, it might be easier to establish a clear link between the director and the software product.
Sky News also says that any such case would need to be tested in court.