[Book] New Laws of Robotics

New Laws of Robotics: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI
Frank Pasquale
Harvard University Press
October 2020, 352 pages

AI is poised to disrupt our work and our lives. We can harness these technologies rather than fall captive to them—but only through wise regulation.

Too many CEOs tell a simple story about the future of work: if a machine can do what you do, your job will be automated. They envision everyone from doctors to soldiers rendered superfluous by ever-more-powerful artificial intelligence. They offer stark alternatives: make robots or be replaced by them.

Another story is possible. In virtually every walk of life, robotic systems can make labor more valuable, not less. Frank Pasquale tells the story of nurses, teachers, designers, and others who partner with technologists, rather than meekly serving as data sources for their computerized replacements. This cooperation reveals the kind of technological advance that could bring us all better health care, education, and more, while maintaining meaningful work. These partnerships also show how law and regulation can promote prosperity for all, rather than a zero-sum race of humans against machines.

How far should AI be entrusted to assume tasks once performed by humans? What is gained and lost when it does? What is the optimal mix of robotic and human interaction? New Laws of Robotics makes the case that policymakers must not allow corporations or engineers to answer these questions alone. The kind of automation we get—and who it benefits—will depend on myriad small decisions about how to develop AI. Pasquale proposes ways to democratize that decision making, rather than centralize it in unaccountable firms. Sober yet optimistic, New Laws of Robotics offers an inspiring vision of technological progress, in which human capacities and expertise are the irreplaceable center of an inclusive economy.

Frank Pasquale is Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School and author of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information. His work has appeared in the AtlanticNew York TimesLos Angeles TimesGuardian, and other outlets.