Self-Driving Laws

15 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2016 Last revised: 15 Jul 2016

See all articles by Anthony J. Casey

Anthony J. Casey

University of Chicago Law School; ECGI

Anthony Niblett

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence

Date Written: June 5, 2016


Machines refine and improve products. Artificially intelligent machines will soon have the same effect on the law. Future developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning will dramatically reduce the costs currently associated with rules and standards. Extending this insight, we predict a world of precisely tailored laws (“micro-directives”) that specify exactly what is permissible in every unique situation. These micro-directives will be largely automated. If the state of the world changes, or if the objective of the law is changed, the law will instantly update. The law will become “self-driving.”

The evolutionary path toward self-driving laws will be piecemeal and incremental. At first, machine-driven algorithms will merely be used to guide humans; but, over time, law will increasingly reflect principles and prescriptions developed by machines.

We explore three extensions. First, we examine the possibility that the technology is not merely used to provide information about the law, but is used as means of command by the state. Second, we ask how these technological changes will affect contracting behaviour. Third, we examine the effect of micro-directives on social norms.

Keywords: law, future, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, machines, self-driving, micro-directives, prediction, contracts

JEL Classification: K0, K12, K20, K3

Suggested Citation

Casey, Anthony Joseph and Niblett, Anthony, Self-Driving Laws (June 5, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Anthony Joseph Casey

University of Chicago Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773.702.9578 (Phone)


ECGI ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
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Anthony Niblett (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5

Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence ( email )

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