AI & Law: Accomplice Liability and AI Exceptionalism

Lance Eliot
6 min readMar 16, 2022
Exploring the legal puzzle of accomplice liability and AI

by Dr. Lance B. Eliot

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Key briefing points about this article:

  • Companies are churning out AI systems at an astonishing rate
  • Many do so with an AI For Good mantra, believing in AI exceptionalism
  • The harsh reality is that there is also AI For Bad
  • Attorneys should be ready for clients that are caught in the accomplice liability ranks
  • One key legal argument entails the question of substantial unoffending purpose


Do you have any clients that are producing AI-based systems?

Even if you don’t yet have such clients, you might very well find yourself having such a client in the future.

You need to be ready for a potentially acute legal vulnerability that they are ostensibly unknowingly facing.

I say this because it seems like everyone is eager to get onto the AI bandwagon and they are doing so without considering the downstream legal ramifications. A lot of companies are simply hurriedly developing and releasing AI-based apps into the marketplace, doing so with great haste. It seems as though each day there is some new breathtaking announcement about a wondrous app that leaps tall buildings due to being AI-infused.

Of course, much of this is mere hype.

The reality for most of these apps is that they tangentially utilize some minuscule AI-related components and otherwise have no special AI-stoked powers per se. In any case, companies are eager to leverage the AI moniker as a means of gaining awareness about something that generally would be considered humdrum or decidedly ho-hum.

Splash the AI pixy dust and you suddenly have a big hit on your hands.

Amid this rush toward the use of AI, there has been a strident belief by many that this is an aboveboard approach to try and craft apps that will benefit…

Lance Eliot

Dr. Lance B. Eliot is a renowned global expert on AI, successful startup founder, global CIO/CTO, , was a top exec at a major Venture Capital (VC) firm.