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Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Abstract

This Article addresses whether strong artificial intelligent robots (“AI”) should receive real property rights. More than a resource, real property promotes self-respect to natural persons such as human beings. Because of this distinction, this Article argues for limited real property rights for AIs. In developing this proposition, it examines three hypotheticals of a strong AI robot in various forms of real property ownership. The first hypothetical determines whether an AI could work as an agent in real property transactions. As robots currently act as agents in various capacities, the groundwork exists for an AI to enter this role. The second hypothetical considers whether an AI could own property in a manner similar to a corporation. In this instance, an AI would own the property in its name, but generate wealth for its shareholders and have oversight by natural persons. Corporations can acquire property as artificial persons, so too AIs could meet similar legal requirements. As such, the law should allow such ownership rights to AIs. The third hypothetical delves into whether an AI should own property outright like a natural person. After describing potential reasons for this approach, this Article explains why legal and policy-based arguments weigh against this extension of property rights to AIs. Instead, any possibility of an AI owning property like a natural person should come from Congress, not the courts.

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