Challenges and Solutions to Criminal Liability for the Actions of Robots and AI


  • Vladimír Smejkal Department of Informatics, Faculty of Business and Management, Brno University of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic
  • Jindřich Kodl Authorized expert of cryptology and information systems security, Prague, Czech Republic



robot, criminal liability, audit trail, criminal evidence


Civil liability legislation is currently being developed, but little attention has been paid to the issue of criminal liability for the actions of robots. The study describes the generations of robots and points out the concerns about robots’ autonomy. The more autonomy robots obtain, the greater capacity they have for self-learning, yet the more difficulty in proving the failure foreseeability when designing and whether culpability or the elements of a specific crime can be considered. In this study, the tort liability depending on the category of robots is described, and the possible solutions are analyzed. It is shown that there is no need to introduce new criminal law constructions, but to focus on the process of proof. Instead of changing the legal system, it is necessary to create the most detailed audit trail telling about the robot’s actions and surroundings or to have a digital twin of the robot.


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Laying Down Harmonised Rules on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) and Amending Certain Union Legislative Acts, European Commission, COM/2021/206 final, 2021.

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Adapting Non-Contractual Civil Liability Rules to Artificial Intelligence (AI Liability Directive), European Commission, COM/2022/496 final, 2022.

R. Calo, “Robotics and the Lessons of Cyberlaw,” California Law Review, vol. 103, no. 4, pp. 513-563, June 2015.

M. Simmler and N. Markwalder, “Guilty Robots? – Rethinking the Nature of Culpability and Legal Personhood in an Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Criminal Law Forum, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 1-31, March 2019.

S. Ahn, “Artificial Intelligence and Criminal Liability,” Korean Journal of Legal Philosophy, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 77-122, 2017.

J. R. Searle, Minds, Brains and Science, 13th ed., Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003.

M. Minsky, Computation: Finite and Infinite Machines, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1967.

F. Focquaert, E. Shaw, and B. N. Waller, The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Science of Punishment, London: Routledge, 2020.

E. Watamura, T. Ioku, and T. Wakebe, “Justification of Sentencing Decisions: Development of a Ratio-Based Measure Tested on Child Neglect Cases,” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12, article no. 761536 January 2022.

F. Pollock, “Has the Common Law Received the Fiction Theory of Corporations?” Law Quarterly Review, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 219-235, 1911.

G. Hallevy, “I, Robot-I, Criminal-When Science Fiction Becomes Reality: Legal Liability of AI Robots Committing Criminal Offenses,” Syracuse Science & Technology Law Reporter, vol. 22, pp. 1-37, 2010.

L. Wang, “New Challenges Posed by Robots to China’s Civil Code in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Frontiers of Law in China, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 33-41, March 2022.

R. E. Fikes and N. J. Nilsson, “STRIPS: A New Approach to the Application of Theorem Proving to Problem Solving,” Artificial Intelligence, vol. 2, no. 3-4, pp. 189-208, 1971.

N. Bostrom, Super-intelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

R. Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, New York: Penguin Books, 2006.

S. Russell, T. Dietterivh, E. Horvitz, B. Selman, F. Rossi, D. Hassabis, et al., “Letter to the Editor: Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: An Open Letter,” AI Magazine, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 3-4, December 2015.

M. R. Ford, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, New York: Basic Books, 2015.

E. Brynjolfsson and A. McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.

R. Logan, “Can Computers Become Conscious, an Essential Condition for the Singularity?” Information, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 161, December 2017.

A. Doležal and T. Doležal, “Proof of Causation in Medical Malpractice Cases in the Czech Republic,” The Lawyer Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 195-205, 2015. (In Czech)

Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, The Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, May 20, 2004; similarly, for instance, Supreme Court of the Czech Republic, The Ruling of the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic, September 06, 2001.

M. de la Cámara, F. J. Sáenz, J. A. Calvo-Manzano and M. Arcilla, “Security by Design Factors for Developing and Evaluating Secure Software,” 10th Iberian Conference on Information Systems and Technologies, pp. 1-6, June 2015.

A. Maurushat and K. Nguyen, “Correction to: The Legal Obligation to Provide Timely Security Patching and Automatic Updates,” International Cybersecurity Law Review, vol. 3, no. 2, article no. 495, December 2022.

L. Gould, “What Are Digital Twins and Digital Threads?” Automotive Design & Production, vol. 130, no. 2, pp. 30-32, 2018.

Siemens, “Digital Twin,”, November 05, 2018.

ABI Research, “Digital Twins, Smart Cities, and Urban Modeling,” Research Report AN-5239, September 15, 2019.

Bonn, “Implementation of Digital Twins to Significantly Improve Logistics Operations,” Trend Report DHL, June 27, 2019.

European Union, European Parliament Resolution of 16 February 2017 with Recommendations to the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics (2015/2103(INL)), Official Journal, C 252/239, 2018.

N. N. Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, New York: Random House, 2008.




How to Cite

Vladimír Smejkal and Jindřich Kodl, “Challenges and Solutions to Criminal Liability for the Actions of Robots and AI”, Adv. technol. innov., vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 65–84, Dec. 2023.