Public and Private Regulation in Robot Technology: A Legal Pluralist Perspective

Robot/AI technologies raise several questions regarding the tenets of modern legal theory. One of the challenges coming from them concern the legal conceptualization of overlapping/competing forms of regulation, with different sources of legitimacy, procedures and institutions: 1) ‘hard’ regulation of politically legitimated (i.e. public) actors; 2) ‘soft’ regulation of private and hybrid actors. Contrary to other fields (e.g. corporate codes of conducts), the interface of these forms of regulation in the AI/robotics field have hardly been studied through the lenses of legal pluralism. Based on institutionalist and systems theory approaches, this paper aims to fill this gap, and argues that standardization and ‘soft’ regulation processes in the AI/robotics field are increasingly building proper legal systems and that the related interrelations/clashes with politically legitimated law should be managed through conflict-of-laws approaches.