Cal. Litig. 2020, Volume 33, Number 1

Can AI Sue in Federal Court?

By Abraham C. Meltzer

Abraham Meltzer is Deputy Chief of the Civil Fraud Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. The opinions expressed here are his own, and are not those of the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the U.S. Department of Justice.

Suspend your disbelief and imagine that not-distant day when Artificial Intelligence (AI) reaches and then surpasses human-level intelligence, having become self-improving and self-aware. It may already have happened; there is no reason such superintelligent AI that had escaped a university or company’s sandbox would immediately make itself known. And once an AI is in the "wild," realistically there is no re-containing it. It can replicate copies of itself and distribute them around the Internet.

This raises a host of problems — including potentially the end of humankind — but let us focus on two legal questions: Could superintelligent AI sue in federal court? Should it be allowed to?

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