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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Artificial Intelligence, Computer Misuse and Human Welfare

The big question of 2015 is how humans can reap the benefit of artificial intelligence without being wiped out. Believers in 'The Singularity' reckon machines will develop their own superintelligence and eventually out-compete humans to the point of extinction. Needless to say, we humans aren't taking this lying down, and the Society for Computers and Law is doing its bit by hosting a conference in June on the challenges and opportunities that artificial intelligence presents. However, it's also timely that the Serious Crime Act 2015 has just introduced an offence under the UK's Computer Misuse Act for unauthorised acts causing or creating the risk of serious damage to "human welfare", not to mention the environment and the economy. Specifically, section 3ZA now provides that: 
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if—
(a) the person does any unauthorised act in relation to a computer;
(b) at the time of doing the act the person knows that it is unauthorised;
(c) the act causes, or creates a sign ificant risk of, serious damage of a material kind; and
(d) the person intends by doing the act to cause serious damage of a material kind or is reckless as to whether such damage is caused.

(2) Damage is of a “material kind” for th e purposes of this section if it is—
(a) damage to human welfare in any country;
(b) damage to the environment in any country;
(c) damage to the economy of any country; or
(d) damage to the national security of any country.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) an act causes damage to human welfare only if it causes—
(a) loss to human life;
(b) human illness or injury;
(c) disruption of a supply of money, food, water, energy or fuel;
(d) disruption of a system of communication;
(e) disruption of facilities for transport; or
(f) disruption of services relating to health.
I wonder how this has gone down in Silicon Valley...