Drive and Agency in the Age of Algorithm-Based Decision Making

by Chiara Alvisi

This essay seeks to identify the requisites for human personhood so as to meet the legal challenges presented by algorithm-based decision making. Human beings are the archetype of legal personhood with all resulting rights and duties; however, because of the widespread usage of AI, there are potentially significant problems due to the lack of a clear definition of personhood in this context. The essay argues that Freudian psychoanalysis can be used to address this problem by providing a better understanding of personhood in juridical terms. Particular focus is given to the Freudian concept of ‘drive’. The argued correspondence between the understanding of drive and the substantive theory of representation is central to the essay’s conclusion that autonomous software systems are not real agents or persons even if they can communicate and interact with people in a human-like fashion because they are incapable of juridical cooperation and partnership with others.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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