New Technologies, Artificial Intelligence and Shipping law in the 21st Century

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Shipping: Product liability goes high-tech

Shipping: Product liability goes high-tech

Professor Andrew Tettenborn

Few resolutions of the European Parliament begin with references to Pygmalion and Frankenstein’s monster, or suggest with an apparent straight face that the time might have come to give intelligent machines legal personality. The 2017 resolution that did this2 can safely be dismissed as a slightly silly jeu d’esprit by the overpaid and underworked. But there is nevertheless a grain of truth for shipping lawyers lying behind it. Machines and computer code, rather than master mariners and chief officers, are increasingly controlling shipping operations; it follows that shipping liability disputes will increasingly concern cases of machine malfunctions, software glitches and hardware hangups rather than direct human error. Hence this chapter, on product liability and the effect on it of the use of electronics and cyber-control in the shipping world.

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