Knowing Legal Machines

Many of the social questions raised by artificial intelligence are mediated through the legal system. Policymakers explore new rules to govern the technology, courts work to apply existing legal framework to new situations, and advocates propose entirely new approaches to deal with novel problems (or old problems with new prominence).

The legal work of the Knowing Machines Project strives to inform these processes with cutting-edge research and insights, especially in terms of the ways that AI systems are trained and the data used to do so. As part of these efforts, we file comments with administrative agencies trying to understand how their mandates are impacted by artificial intelligence, submit amicus briefs to bring information and context to courts navigating disputes, and propose new approaches for structuring society’s interaction with the technology.

These debates are evolving quickly. Today, we invite you to use these resources to understand the current state of the discussion. We cover topics from how Clearview AI’s facial recognition system unlawfully trains on our faces to AI companies using dangerous free speech arguments to the future of FOIA in the Age of AI to ways regulators can help workers resist employer surveillance to the potential deceptiveness and unfairness of emotion recognition technologies. In the future, we hope that they will serve as a snapshot of our understanding of them in 2023.


Generative AI Legal Explainer

Melodi Dincer, Jake Karr, Jason Schultz, Michael Weinberg
Generative AI raises a host of legal questions and concerns.  Some of these questions will challenge existing legal rules and require new laws and policy frameworks. Others have answers that are quite well settled, notwithstanding the new AI context bringing attention to them.

Comments of the Knowing Machines Research Project to the United States Copyright Office Notice of Inquiry on Artificial Intelligence and Copyright

Melodi Dincer, Jason Schultz & Christo Buschek
Knowing Machines recommends that USCO rely on research-based, empirical findings to inform its regulatory agenda and any recommendations to Congress on this topic. Specifically, USCO should advocate for support and funding to develop data investigatory tools to inform its assessment of training datasets for GenAI and their potential impact on the copyright system as a whole. In this response, we briefly discuss Knowing Machines’ experience building a data investigatory tool for training datasets as one example of such tools and to demonstrate some of the ways in which data investigations may provide empirical findings to support evidence- based policymaking.
Amicus Brief

Amici Brief of Science, Legal, and Technology Scholars in Renderos et al. v. Clearview AI, Inc. et al., No. RG21096898 (Superior Ct. Alameda County)

Jason Schultz & Melodi Dincer
For over a century, the right of publicity (ROP) has protected individuals from unwanted commercial exploitation of their identities. Originating around the turn of the twentieth century in response to the newest image-appropriation technologies of the time, the ROP has continued to evolve to cover each new wave of technologies enabling companies to exploit peoples’ identities as part of their business models.

Clearview AI Is Deploying a California Law Meant to Protect Activists From Bogus Lawsuits

Nicola Morrow & Melodi Dincer
Clearview AI is a lucrative facial recognition company that has spent the past few years in legal hot water. But as lawsuits against Clearview continue to mount, the company has invoked a dangerous legal argument that, if successful, could provide a playbook for numerous AI companies to evade accountability.

The First Amendment Should Protect Us from Facial Recognition Technologies – Not the Other Way Around

Talya Whyte & Jake Karr
Should the First Amendment allow facial recognition companies to scrape photos of you off the internet and train AI surveillance systems that law enforcement then uses against peaceful protestors?

The Right of Publicity: A New Framework for Regulating Facial Recognition

Jason Schultz
In this article, I develop a novel theory for how Right of Publicity claims could apply to Facial Recognition systems and detail how their history and development, both statutory and common law, demonstrate their power to impose liability on entities that conduct mass image and identity appropriation, especially through innovative visual technologies.

Freedom of Information Laws and Access to Government Data in the Age of AI: Two Recent Cases

Jake Karr
In recent years, there has been a surge of concern about the massive amounts of data that governments collect about us. Calls for transparency and accountability have never been louder, especially when it comes to the ways that this data is fed into government AI systems to help “train” them to make decisions that directly but often secretly impact our lives.

Comments of the Knowing Machines Research Project to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Automated Worker Surveillance and Management

Melodi Dincer, Kate Crawford & Jason Schultz
Knowing Machines urges OSTP to translate workers’ expectations of privacy in their data into guidance for employers on when and what types of data they can collect. As worker data fuels automated surveillance technologies by serving as training data for machine-learning models, we encourage OSTP to set a high bar for employers who exploit worker data to inform employment decision and undermine workers’ autonomy.

Tell the White House to Limit AI-Driven Worker Surveillance

Melodi Dincer
The pandemic and its aftermath have intensified existing rifts over worker autonomy and control in the U.S., including the many ways in which workers are surveilled, measured, and controlled through automated surveillance products. Most workers understand that some of what they do on the job is important to measure so they can be hired to the right roles, rewarded for solid performance, and compensated fairly. But the ubiquitous datafication of every moment on the clock creates vast pools of data that employers are currently free to collect and use without limitations.

Comments of the Knowing Machines Research Project to the Federal Trade Commission

Melodi Dincer & Kate Crawford
With this Comment, the Knowing Machines Project asks the Commission to investigate and, where appropriate, prohibit the deceptive and unfair practices that emotion recognition companies conduct.