Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and Digital Technology

Global Politics, Law and International Relations

Edited by Ben Wagner, Matthias C. Kettemann and Kilian Vieth

In a digitally connected world, the question of how to respect, protect and implement human rights has become unavoidable. This contemporary Research Handbook offers new insights into well-established debates by framing them in terms of human rights. It examines the issues posed by the management of key Internet resources, the governance of its architecture, the role of different stakeholders, the legitimacy of rule making and rule-enforcement, and the exercise of international public authority over users. Highly interdisciplinary, its contributions draw on law, political science, international relations and even computer science and science and technology studies.
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Chapter 13: Liability and automation in socio-technical systems

Giuseppe Contissa and Giovanni Sartor


The introduction of highly automated technologies in socio-technical systems (STS) gives rise to new legal questions, especially as concerns liability for accidents, calling for new models of allocating decision-making tasks between humans and machines. We first discuss the relation between responsibility for the execution of a task and legal liability. Then we analyse the impact of automation in the allocation of liability within STS. In this regard, we present an actor-based analysis of liability allocation, taking account of the main types of liability, and in particular liability for software failures. In the final section of the chapter, we present the Legal Case, a methodology by which to analyse liability allocation in automated STSs and to assess the resulting legal risk for all actors involved.

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