The European Commission has proposed new rules that would make it easier for individuals to sue companies behind artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for harm caused

The proposed AI Liability Directive would lessen the burden of proof needed for people suing over accidents or incidents which involved AI, such as digital devices like drones and self-driving cars.

If approved, the directive would mean that the potential victims only have to have a “presumption of causality”, meaning they only need to say that the manufacturer or user of the AI tool or service caused harm and then link this to the technology in the lawsuit.

The proposal put forward by the European Commission would do away with previous requirements forcing the victim to prove that it was the AI system that caused them harm, which could be a complex and expensive exercise.

Sarah Coop, analyst at GlobalData, tells Verdict that the European Commission wants a legal framework fit for the digital age” and sees the proposals as a huge win for victims.

“This new proposed legal framework for dealing with AI-related harm will force tech companies to have more accountability and be more stringent with their checks of AI systems,” Coop says.

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The European Commission’s new AI lawsuit could run alongside the EU’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act. This would be one of the first laws to limit how and when AI systems could be used.

Jeff Watkins, chief product and technology officer at software firm xDesign, tells Verdict that the new rules would only cover cases “where AI is the sole decision maker.”

“Where AI is used to augment human decisions, existing civil liability in the form of negligence would apply,” he adds. “Pinning this liability to individuals, where a large team or organisation has created a product may well be more complex and as always with such matters, the initial court cases will be interesting to follow.”

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.