Document Type

Book Chapter

Book Authors/Editors

Stacy-Ann Elvy & Nancy Kim


Cambridge University Press

Publication Date



Some say AI is advancing quickly. ChatGPT, Bard, Bing’s AI, LaMDA, and other recent advances are remarkable, but they are talkers not doers. Advances toward some kind of robust agency for AI is, however, coming. Humans and their law must prepare for it. This chapter addresses this preparation from the standpoint of contract law and contract practices. An AI agent that can participate as a contracting agent, in a philosophical or psychological sense, with humans in the formation of a con-tract will have to have the following properties: (1) AI will need the cognitive functions to act with intention and that intention must cause the AI to take a particular action; (2) humans must be in a position to recognize and respect that intention; (3) AI must have the capacity to engage with humans (and other AI) in shared intentions, meaning the cognitive capacity to share a goal the parties can plan for and execute; (4) AI will have to have the capacity to recognize and respect the practical authority of law and legal obligation; (5) it will have to have the capacity to recognize and respect practical authority in a claim accountability sense, in accepting that a contract forms a binding commitment to others. In other words, AI will have to be able engage in shared intentionality but also understand and accept it cognitively as a binding commitment recognized by the law; and (6) AI will have to possess the ability to participate in these actions with humans or in some hybrid form with humans.