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Incompatibilities between cognitive law and autonomous systems

Léonard Van Rompaey, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Law as a product of human minds is necessarily bound by our cognitive capacities, and this cognitive shaping might make law incompatible with autonomous systems. This article explores what is anthropocentric from a cognitive sciences perspective in our legal system, and whether law and regulation are too anthropocentric to be effectively applied by robots. What is human about the law? Robots offer us a push back from ourselves and allow us to take a new look on what it means to be human, as well as to see how our legal system is shaped in our image.

When using cognitive sciences to analyse law, it can be observed that our biased perception build our legal expectations and consciously inaccessible biases frame the decisions we make to create or apply law. In turn, law modifies the functioning of our brains on a daily basis, and forge our expectations and mental functioning on the long term. Because law is engrained in those cognitive specificities, a compatible cognitive functioning is necessary to apply and comply to the law, and this cognitively-compatible application of law becomes the foundation of a just and fair output of law. Those few elements explain why law might not be fully compatible with autonomous systems making decisions to apply the law.