Posted in AI Law

Part II: So, who is liable?

In the previous post (Part I: Automation & Ethics:Applying Trolleyology), we discussed the introductory part to this article; the inherent ethical dilemma in the trolley problem and how that’s relevant to the current scenario of automated devices and self-driving cars. We discussed certain situations, including the Moral Machine by MIT, and our discussion was primarily ethical. In this post, we’ll carry forward the discussion from an ethical one to a legal one; discussing particular significant legal implications of the issues discussed beforehand.

We discussed ethics in the previous post and observed that people have varying stands when it comes to categorising what particularly is ethical and what is unethical. Despite this personal biases and difference of opinions, every society has certain ethical standards and it enforces the same by way of punishing the unethical. Theft is punished, trespassing is punished, defaming is punished; killing is punished, too, be it five workmen or a single one. Your being confused as to moral reasoning isn’t a valid excuse in the eyes of the law, and the law will punish what it ‘considers’ to be wrong.

But, what if AI commits a wrong? Whom to hold responsible when an artificially intelligent device or self-driving car causes some damages or injuries? Will the coder/designer/manufacturer be liable? Or the owner? Or the person who customised it? Big question, eh.

Legal personhood of AI

Examining the legal liability of AI, we can start by examining the possibilities of a legal personality of AI in the first place. Can an artificially intelligent device/robot be considered a juristic person in the eyes of law? If not, what would be its legal status, then? Can it still be treated merely as a movable property despite the fact that it has an intelligence and ability to learn things its own way?

The logical starting point would be to consider the probability of AI falling within the definition of mere property, like a watch or a remote controller. When it comes to products, the manufacturer is held liable by the principle of strict liability. However, with recent developments, there has been a shift in the judicial approach and liability is held only in cases where the defendant manufacturer/designer could reasonably foresee the damage or has failed to take reasonable care to avoid negligence.

Deducing on this line of reasoning, we can realise that the manufacturer or designer of an artificially intelligent being/device can rarely foresee the course of action its creation would take, and hence should be exempted from the strict liability – hence AI not falling strictly within the definition of a property per se.

The next point of examination would be whether AI could be a person – the option on the opposite end of the logical extremity. It requires little or no examination, in my opinion. Every one of us would agree on this point – that although artificially intelligent devices possess some degree of intelligence, they can in no way be considered ‘equivalent’ to humans.

So, AI doesn’t qualify for a human, and neither does it fall within the categorisation of a property. What’s left? A middle way: Romans invented this when confronted with the question as to whether slaves were humans. They didn’t want to confer upon the slaves complete personhood; but they also understood that slaves had their own minds and wouldn’t necessarily follow the master always. They invented this new legal status – ‘quasi-persons’.

On a sliding scale, with humans like you and I being on one end; and the non-living things like trees, pens, and pencils on the other; and the corporations, juristic persons falling somewhere in the middle; AI also finds a place somewhere in the middle. Where exactly in the middle? Well, that’s a difficult question to answer objectively. Some tests like the Legal Turing test have been proposed to address the same, but they somehow fail when it comes to practical applicability. The best bet would be to consider this issue on a case-to-case basis, depending upon the facts of the case like the intention of the designer, foreseeability of the damage et cetera.

Legal liability of AI

Now that we have an answer of sorts regarding the legal personhood of AI, we can proceed to discuss the legal liability of artificially intelligent devices. And Gabriel Hallevy from Israel makes the job easier for us with his work. A little background for non-law people here: criminal liability has two basic prerequisites: mens rea (the criminal intent, or the guilty mind) and actus reus (the criminal act)In other words, a man, or any person, can be said to be criminally liable only when both the elements are present – that is, he has criminal intent and commits an act to actualise that intent.

There can be a number of instances of various combinations of these elements, and each of those instances calls for different degree of liability. Of those many, Gabriel points out three possible scenarios that can be applicable to the AI; the first one being perpetrator via another. Perpetrator via another is the situation when a mentally deficient person or an animal, who inherently lacks mens rea and is hence innocent, commits a crime under the instructions of someone else. The instructor here is held liable. The second one is natural probable consequence which relies on the possibility that the programmer could naturally see the probable consequence and decides liability accordingly. The third one is direct liability, and this one is special: under this set of circumstances, the AI itself is liable – not the owner.

AI liability is no longer just a theoretical discussion or philosophical deliberation. Way back in 2008, the Indian judiciary faced the case of Avnish Bajaj v State (famously known as the case, wherein the courts recognised the automation involved in codes and software for which the owner could not be held liable. Time and again courts across the globe have come across cases where they have admitted that certain things aren’t ripe for a decision yet, unfortunately.

So, if the AI is liable in certain cases to the exclusion of all other stakeholders, including the owner himself, the next big question that arises is, whom to punish? Whom to give judgements to? Whom to accuse? The conventional theories of punishments obviously aren’t going to apply to AI – we can’t think of retribution or reform by punishing an AI system. So, whom to punish?

Well, nobody knows the answer for now.

This post first appeared here.



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Posted in AI Law

Part I: Automation & Ethics – Applying Trolleyology

Consider the following situation:

You are a trolley driver, driving a trolley on a nice sunny day, when you notice five men working on the street in front of you, in your way. You blow the horn multiple times, but then notice they all are wearing earphones while working and hence can’t hear you approaching. Frustrated, you reach out to the brake, and to your shock, you find out that the brake isn’t working at all. Your mind goes blank, and frightened, just at the thought of what’s going to happen to the five workmen when the trolley hits them shortly.

However, suddenly you notice that there’s a small diversion just before the workmen whichto you can divert your trolley easily and quickly, thereby saving the five workmen! What a relief!

But the relief was only momentary – as you consider taking the diversion, you find out that the diversion isn’t all clear, either. There’s one man working thereon, and if you turn the steering to take the diversion, his death is certain.

There you sit, on your speeding trolley, with a failed brake, with two roads to choose from: one that will kill five men, and another that’ll kill one man, but with an active choice involved from your side.

What’ll you do?

The above hypothetical problem presents before us a millennia-old debate: the same as that between the pro-life and pro-right activists, that between the supporters and critics of utilitarianism, and also, that between the public interest and private rights, in some way. The question here, in one sense, tests utilitarianism in its extremity: by pushing the pleasure and pain element thereof to questions of survival and death, the death here being caused deliberately.

This particular hypothetical situation is a philosophical thought experiment introduced by Phillippa Foot in 1967 – and the two probable courses of action here signifies two different viewpoints of moral reasoning. One course of action, that saves the five men by killing one, subscribes to or signifies a ‘consequentialist moral reasoning’. However, there’s another viewpoint, called a ‘categorical moral reasoning’, that upholds that killing even a single person is wrong, no matter how grave the situation is which dictates such killing.

What would you do? Save the five workmen by diverting the trolley, right?

Statistically, when asked the above question, people tend to subscribe to a consequentialist moral reasoning, and go for saving five lives at the cost of one life. However, when the above hypothetical situation is somewhat modified to represent another situation where the required degree of active involvement is significantly more, people do seem to change their mind:

Suppose you’re a doctor, specialising in organ transplantation. One day, five road-accident victims were sent to you who’re in immediate need of organ transplantation. You have everything, but some healthy organs which can be transplanted. All of the five persons need five different organs: one needs a liver, another a heart, another a kidney, and so on.

While pondering over how to arrange five healthy organs in such a short span of time, you suddenly remember you have a healthy person sitting in the visiting room who just came in for a routine check-up.

Would you kill the person in the visiting room so as to use his organs to save five persons?

The above variation of the trolley problem was introduced by Judith Jarvis Thomson in 1985, and makes clear the distinction between the two choices: the point that the choice is NOT between killing five and killing one, but between ‘letting five die’ and ‘killing one’. And here it becomes difficult to stick to the consequentialist moral reasoning, for most of the people, statistically speaking – because even though we have this notion of higher good being the right thing to do, at the same time, on the other hand, we also have this deep rooted conception that there are certain basic inalienable rights of a human being that cannot be, under any circumstance(s), snatched away from him.

The above set of problems highlighting ethical dilemmas in decision making are informally, and loosely, termed as ‘trolleyology’, or the ‘trolley problem’, in general. Although originally a philosophical thought experiment, it finds extensive applications in number of cases, starting from court room situations, to policy drafting and legislation, to the designing of automated vehicles.

The trolley problem poses a specific significance to the automation industry, inter alia. Automation, by its very nature, requires things to be predetermined – pre-coded by way of predefined algorithms. And a predefined algorithm means and implies a predefined course of action – which directly translates to the requirement of sticking to a precise ethical code. And sticking to an ethical code, in a programmed way, isn’t really easy when it comes to the real-world situations. What should self-driving cars do when having a choice to bump into an old man and a young man? Five people or one bystander? Traffic rules or car safety? These are some of the difficult choices that the AI designers are faced with while designing automated devices.

Some MIT students and academicians came forward recently to design a simulated platform for this issue, and the result was the ‘Moral Machine’. Moral Machine presented before the users a set of hypothetical situations which represented ethical dilemma and required them to make choices – and the result was further distracting.

The opinion of the users was as diverse as it was 2000 years ago.

People from various backgrounds went for various choices – people from eastern countries majorly went for saving the innocent, people from western and American countries went for inaction, and people from Latin American countries went for saving the young and potent. People often went for saving humans over animals, and lives over property. Social sensitisation played a role, but not so uniformly.

The point is, individual opinion varies a great deal when it comes to making ethical choices – choosing between holding on and letting go – deliberating over the meaning and purpose of life and human action. Does that mean designing artificial intelligence shouldn’t have a uniform guide of conduct as well? Should AI and automation ethics be allowed to vary from place to place and society to society as well? And importantly, in this era of globalisation, is it even possible to afford such differences when geographical and societal difference has been proved to be nothing but an illusion merely.

This particular debate, between that of consequentialism and categorical moral reasoning, has been alive since Greek times, probably – and we still aren’t over it. The fact that this debate has persisted so long definitely signifies its level of difficulty – but more than that, it signifies its continued relevance for the society. And now in the wake of automated devices and artificially intelligent computers – and the multitude of policy and legal changes it calls for, it’s relevant more than ever before.

Read the second part here.

This post first appeared here.



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‘Passionate!’ That’s the only word he uses to describe himself. Questioning assumptions. Challenging hypocrisies. Making the planet a better place to live in. Can be found at

Posted in Others

Debunking Myths About Criminal Lawyers

While the media frequently highlights the importance of protecting minority groups, it still seems acceptable in our culture to denigrate criminal defence attorneys. Apparently, although individuals of particular religions, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities or political views are perceived as worthy of protection, criminal defence lawyers are still fair game, targeted in jokes and cartoons, on talk shows and at private and public gatherings. Let’s set the record straight.

The Mythology of Criminal Defense Lawyers

The following myths are fairly persuasive which is bad on at least two fronts: (1) criminal defence lawyers suffer unfairly tarnished reputations and do not receive the respect they deserve; and (2) accused and arrested individuals feel that they are being forced to deal with unsavoury characters they should not trust when they must consult with criminal defence attorneys. The following four myths about criminal defence lawyers lay the foundation for many other misconceptions.


  1. Criminal Defense Lawyers Don’t Care About the Guilt or Innocence of Their Clients

    Criminal defence attorneys, unlike other members of the judicial system, serve their clients’ interest. Because they represent those accused of crimes, they review the government’s evidence, gather their own evidence if needed, determine its admissibility and, after a thorough investigation of the facts, determine – based on their experience – whether the government can prove their client committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government cannot, the lawyer fights with all their power and knowledge to bring that reasonable doubt to the attention of the judge or jury.

    It’s not the defence lawyers’ job to determine guilt or innocence. Do we often have a feeling one way or the other, probably? However, any experienced defence attorney has at some point been wrong despite a strong feeling one way or the other. So you learn to question that initial instinct and not let it affect your job – which is doing everything possible to meet or exceed your client’s goals.

    What also often happens is the accused being overcharged by the government. In those instances, guilt may not be in question, but guilt as to a different, often less serious charge. Don’t forget, the criminal defence lawyers’ job is to defend their clients as ardently as they can, whatever their own personal opinion of the case. Our justice system is designed to let only the judge or jury make the final decision.

  2. Criminal Defense Attorneys Are Liars

    Talented criminal defence attorneys learn to phrase facts persuasively enough to sow doubt in the minds of judge or jury. The truth has a way of rising to the surface, however, so lying is not only unethical but unlikely to be a successful tactic. Good criminal defence attorneys are well-schooled in raising questions. Through carefully worded suggestions or propositions regarding the conditions of the arrest, the validity and purity of the evidence presented, and the possible misinterpretation of motive or need, highly skilled criminal defence attorneys have the verbal acuity to navigate the courtroom without having to resort to lying. Everyone should remember that in the United State, any accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law – not the other way around.

  3. Criminal Defense Lawyers Hide Evidence or Use Manufactured Evidence

    Those who believe that criminal defence attorneys routinely make up actions or verbiage to win their clients’ freedom are usually guilty of watching too many courtroom dramas. The truth is that criminal defence attorneys work exceptionally hard, examining all available data with a metaphoric microscope to find details that will aid in a positive interpretation of their clients’ actions. They have nothing to win and everything to lose by introducing false evidence that could ruin their reputation and result in disbarment and/or a prison sentence.

  4. Criminal Defense Lawyers Are Only Focused on Making Money

    There is a pervasive myth in our culture that criminal defence lawyers work at this painstaking, emotionally wearing job only because they are looking for financial reward. For this reason, a great many individuals believe that you need not seek out a criminal defence attorney if you find yourself in trouble with the law — that you might as well hire a general practice attorney or a public defender. The latter, after all, presents an advantage to you because he or she charges no fee.

Nevertheless, when your life is on the line — reputation, financial stability, freedom — you want to choose the attorney with the very best chance of winning your case. No matter how competent a general practice attorney may be, he or she only works part-time on criminal defence. Like other specialists, criminal defence lawyers become more proficient by practising exclusively in their area of specialization.

This is why engaging the services of someone who is laser-focused on criminal defence is going to be savvier, as well as more experienced in the discipline than someone who spends a large percentage of his/her time on civil litigation, bankruptcy law, or estate planning. By working at criminal defence law exclusively, a criminal defence attorney will have more finely honed skills in this area than a lawyer who plays the field.

Give yourself the Best Chance of a Successful Outcome – Make Sure to Use a Sharp Criminal Defense Attorney

It is important to remember that when your career, your freedom, and your life as you know it hangs in the balance, there is no substitute for having an accomplished criminal defence attorney at your side. You don’t want to depend on someone who occasionally works on criminal defence or someone who is fresh out of law school. As far as paying for the best criminal representation possible, there is always a way to arrange a payment plan or financing. Don’t short-change yourself in one of the most significant decisions you will ever make. The stakes are too high to settle for the store brand.


Antonio F. Valiente

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After his graduation from American University’s Washington College of Law, Miami attorney Antonio F. Valiente, Esq. began his legal career at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. There, he gained valuable insight and extensive experience over the course of six+ years. Between his time at the Public Defender’s Office & since founding Valiente Law, he’s tried close to 50 felony jury trials as lead counsel, dozens of misdemeanor jury trials, taken over one thousand depositions, & dozens of juvenile trials/adjudicatory hearings. Mr. Valiente’s experience encompasses everything from minor traffic-related misdemeanors to serious first-degree murder charges. Since 2015, Mr. Valiente has expanded his practice to handle all types of family law matters – from divorce and child custody cases to paternity and same-sex adoptions. Having the opportunity to work with & learn from some of the best and most experienced family law attorneys in the State, Mr. Valiente now provides his family law clients with the same excellent representation he is known for providing his client’s accused of state & federal criminal offenses.

Posted in Opinion

Intervention of Supreme Court in Religious Matters: A Debate Against the Motion

Well, what will be the consequences if the Supreme Court passes a judgment restricting the Digambar Jain Monks from practising the nudity or the Hindu Naga Sadhus from travelling anywhere without any cloth?

Section 294 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 restricts the obscenity in public place by calling it an annoyance to others. But at the very same time, the Constitution of India under Article 26 allows the citizen to manage its own religious matters. Now, the same constitution in its Article 13 also promises that laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights shall to a certain extent, be declared as Void. When we analyse this legal triangle, this can be understood that fundamental rights are higher than other statutory laws and nobody can stop one from practising them; and that is why we have the full liberty to practice and manage our religious rights without the intervention of any institution or body and that’s a principle held sacrosanct within the Indian constitutional framework.

But yes, in spite of all the rules and principles, the Supreme Court and its cousins, ‘The High Courts’, tried to intervene in the religious matters – and they have passed orders and judgments to that effect also. The judgements have no doubt been went on to be referred to as landmark ones, but the consequences and implications of the judgements have been more significant (and ‘landmark’) than the judgements themselves, interestingly!

In the year 2015, the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court in the case of Nikhil Soni V. Union of India[1] declared the Jain process of achieving salvation ‘The Santhara’ as illegal and declared it as equal to suicide. Later, the judgment raised silent protests all across the globe from the Jain community and the followers went on ‘silent marches’ in their respective cities. The unacceptability was not from the end of society only, but it was also seconded by the democrats and bureaucrats as well. The judgment was widely criticized and was believed that the judicial mind was not applied.

The bench was apparently ignorant of the historical beliefs and the reasoning behind it. When the matter was appealed in the Apex Court, the judgment was reversed and a stay was imposed. This incident showed that the judgment was a landmark one, but the response of society to it was more than just a milestone – that religious interference is not acceptable by society.

The alteration in the religious process will not allow a religion to be religious anymore. Religion works on faith. Court works on the judicial mind. In order to justify the faith, the mind will be lost in the oblivion, and judgments will no more be justified. And anything which is unjustified is something unacceptable for the society. Can a law still be effective when it’s not at all acceptable to the very society it intends to control?

A very recent example can be taken of the case of Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. V. The State of Kerala & Ors[2], better known as the Sabrimala Temple Case. The judgment of the case has given the women’s a right to enter into the temples but at the same time, it has questioned the fundamental belief of the Lord Ayyappa himself. Lord Ayyappa, according to local beliefs, is considered a lord because he practised celibacy – the determination brought him the stature of a God. He distanced himself from women. That is why if women really believe in him then they must not go to him or not made her viewing to him. Their attention to him will disrespect his principles. Staying far from him is the absolute faith for women. This is what the scripts say. Now, once again the Supreme Court’s judicial mind equated the entry of women to men but attracted the hatred against the judgment nationwide.

Now, the matter is under review petition as the whole of society is protesting against this judgment. That is why I say ‘Judicial mind cannot go with faith’. Ironically, the ratio of judgment was 4:1, 4 males and 1 female, the only lady judge in the bench Justice Indu Malhotra agreed that women must not enter into Sabrimala temple because she understood the gravity of this nuisance. She quoted “To entertain PILs challenging religious practices followed by any group, sect or denomination could cause serious damage to the constitutional and secular fabric of this country”. And the reasoning behind this given by her in the judgment is the ‘applicability of Article 25’.

Going a little back, we come to the case of Shayara Bano V. Union of India[3]. The SC held Triple Talaq unconstitutional. Now it is important to understand that the concept of Talaq-Ul-Biddat was introduced for the betterment of society itself. To resolve the disputed marriage for the sake of the troubled couples in an efficient way was the objective of this system. But again, the Supreme Court applied its judicial mind and as a consequence, the step was struck down. But still, if I quote the records then the Islamic Women are also protesting against this decision as the Hon’ble Congressman from Hyderabad Mr. Owaisi quoted this statement in the Lok Sabha himself.

Do we still think that SC will be able to pass a practical judgment which will bring tomorrow when Shankaracharyas will be appointed democratically? Will there be any possibility that the biases on the basis of different grounds in religious matters will come to an end through the judgments?

  • Jains do not allow women to touch idols during religious ceremonies.
  • Hazi Ali Dargah allows women in the tomb of Pir Hazi Ali Shah Bhukhari but only in December.
  • Patbausi Satra Temple in Assam does not allow menstruating women.
  • Lord Kartikey Temple of Haryana does not allow women.
  • Nizamuddin Dargah has certain restrictions for women.
  • Shree Padmanbhaswamy Temple has certain attire for women.
  • Jama Masjid Delhi does not allow women after sunset.
  • Ranakpur Temple Rajasthan does not allow menstruating temple.
  • In Kashi Vishwanath, only hindus are allowed.
  • In Puri temple, only hindus are allowed.
  • In Bhairvi Temple, men are not allowed.
  • This is a very small list of instances which are happening across the nation and the judgments won’t be able to do anything instead of hurting societal faith, religious beliefs and the mythical concepts. We cannot apply Law Everywhere.

This does not mean that Sati Pratha or Johar can be resumed, those were evil tactics and were also stopped by society but yes, SC never adjudicated that matter. Faith can be countered by faith only. Our constitution is about 70 years old, our laws are made by colonial rulers who followed west in their culture. Those laws cannot go with our society because we are not practitioners of westernization. The discipline behind the laws does not match with the roots of our nation.

The law derives from society, society follow morals and religion tells us about morality. Laws are the results of holy scripts and these legal bodies cannot interfere with the religious matters.

There are other conflicts left to deal with like UCC, Section 66A, CBI and etc. but intervention in religious matters will only raise chaos because the judicial mind cannot go with faith.

[1] Civil Writ Petition No. 7414/2006. Decided by Sunil Ambwani, C.J. and Veerender Singh Siradhana, J.

[2] Writ Petition (Civil) No. 373 Of 2006

[3] Writ Petition (C) No. 118 of 2016


Anchit Jain


Anchit Jain is pursuing law from the ICFAI University Dehradun. He is a third-year law student in B.B.A. LL.B (Hons.). He is interested in ADR, RTI and Consumer Laws. Debating, Dramatics and Chess are the hobbies he carries with him.

Posted in Career Tips

Should You Pursue a Trial or Appellate Career? A must-read guide for aspiring lawyers!

Do you want to pursue a legal career but are unsure about the area you should specialize in? Are you aware of your options but are facing difficulty in deciding?

Surely there may be a million questions running through your mind so let’s just sort it out first!

First of all, you need to explore your options. Ask yourself this: do you want to try cases, or do you want to argue appeals? In other words, do you want to be a trial lawyer or an appellate lawyer?

Pros and Cons of becoming a Trial Lawyer

The most significant motivating factor for trial lawyers is that they get to assemble and design their own cases. Some people believe this is where the real creativity is. Apart from this, if you want to remain in the spotlight, then trials are the way to go (unless you’re interested in singing or dancing; which can’t really happen in the courtroom). It’s like the courtroom is your stage, and you’re the lead performer.

But that comes with immense pressure.

Sure, building a record on your own may be interesting and fun, but it has its drawbacks too: creating a record from scratch can be quite tedious and time-consuming. Not only this, but it is also hard to assemble a record without enduring the flipside — discovery — which can be quite a drawback itself.

Not only this, some trial lawyers actually become machines. They have to work day and night, without a break – even if they really need one. As per a lawyer, trials are incredibly stressful and leave you sleep-deprived. So it can be said that trials have a thrill only if you’re willing to take on all this pressure!

Therefore, we wouldn’t recommend doing this in the long run. We believe that you can instead channel this time and energy into something more useful; let’s say in arguing an appeal?

What is so special about Appellate Practice?

Becoming an Appellate Lawyer has several advantages. To be among the Appellate attorneys, you do not have to spend days, or even months, going through hundreds of documents or listening to testimonies (all of which may turn out to be useless in the end), or play incasilly games that pretrial work requires – someone else would have already done all of that for you.

Some people may argue that it is a tedious job – a job which does not encourage you to think on your own – however, that is not true. Best Appellate attorneys consider the importance of designation and work to craft an adequate appellate argument, which is an art in itself. Crafting those arguments may involve sifting through a smaller sandbox than creating the entire trial court record, but it’s not necessarily a boring sandbox. It includes many interesting tasks such as thinking about the standard of review; selecting arguments that are worth making; identifying obscure legal issues, and preparing and delivering a persuasive oral argument.  Appellate work may offer plenty of stuff which requires creative skills. Appellate attorneys get their facts straight –they offer you more than the surface analysis of the situation.

Let’s also not forget the peaceful work environment – appellate work does not require many hands. Therefore, lawyers work in small groups which helps them develop interpersonal skills and focus on the small details. Some people believe that due to this reason, appellate lawyers do not make big; but we tend to disagree. Our team consists of professionals that have had their big break quite a few times!

Becoming a trial lawyer has its pros, sure, but are you more interested in working as a machine all your life, or do you want a life where you look forward to enjoying work every day? Think wisely!


William Ward


William Ward is the chief content editor and copywriter at Brown Stone Law Firm. He is best known for his informative law-related blogs and articles about the trends of the law industry and how one cope up various law challenges. He has been regularly publishing various blogs on multiple law-related topics which are frequently asked.

Posted in Technology

Climate Change and ICT: Interconnections and Solutions

“It is now clear to most observers that ICTs have a very important role to play here. Recognition of this at the international level will provide countries with a solid argument to roll out climate change strategies with a strong ICT element.”

Hamadoun Toure, ITU Secretary-General (2011)[1]

Numerous documents, policy papers, and research symposiums have called for the need for recognition of the value of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in monitoring deforestation, crop patterns, and other related matters that call for environmental concern. Answering with common prudence, with Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) having penetrated so deep into our day to day personal as well as professional lives, it is highly unlikely that it wouldn’t pose a solution to the climate change issue, alongside a number of possible threats.

If the whole climate change solution regime were to be divided into two broad segments for the convenience of intellectual discourses, the first one would be preventive measures, and the second segment would be measures towards mitigation and adaptation. ICTs play a significant role in both the segments, starting from creating awareness aimed towards preventing environmental degradation to mitigating and adapting using remote sensing and telecommunication systems.



Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can in many ways be used to fight, prevent, and defend climate change as well as its effects. Following subheadings attempt at exploring some of the ways in which ICTs can be proved helpful in doing so.

Transformational innovation

Information Technology can help us a great deal in enabling transformational innovation. In a contextual note, the IoT (Internet of Things) will help us transform our lives, social and economic, in ways as dramatic as the Internet did over the past two decades. The development of the Internet of Things and related technologies mean almost limitless possibilities for incorporating smart and eco-friendlier technologies into human lives that could not have been imagined a few years ago.

Innovations like smart cities, smart households, and smart transportation, inter alia, will help the human beings to raise their standard of living in the social set up while minimizing their footprint on the planet Earth and its climatic setting. Smarter technologies and equipment will mean a proportionate increase in the effectiveness of resource consumption, meaning less and less resource will have to be consumed to sustain more and more number of lives.

Smarter urban planning using ICTs

Smarter urban planning using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) goes a long way in ensuring energy efficiencies in the planned urban societies. A few recent projects feature this as their primary focus and are working on reducing the impact of climate change by applying information technologies and measures for improving energy efficiency in urban planning.[2]

Adaptation using information dissemination technologies

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide users with a large range of options to collect, process, and disseminate information at any point of time. More importantly, they also provide us with the option to easily broadcast any sort of information to a selected audience irrespective of the nature and volume of the information. This feature of ICTs helps us a great deal in disseminating information to large audiences, for example via mobile phones. This can help governments and other relevant stakeholders address major adaptation risks such as food and water shortages through the making of provisions for early warning systems and related facilities.

Capacity Building

Capacity Building is basically a UN terminology that essentially means access to information and increasing knowledge among policymakers and the general population. In the context of telecommunication networks, capacity building has the contextual meaning of expansion of telecommunication networks to serve a greater number of populations.

Greater access to information by the general population essentially implies increasing potential for dissemination of weather-related information through mobile phone networks. Increased dissemination of weather-related information amongst the general masses will not only help the building of community awareness regarding the growing impacts of climate change but also will make sure a more effective warning and adaptation system.

Asset management for Water Distribution Networks

Monitoring, controlling, and managing water distribution networks form a large part of the climate change adaptation system. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can make this job easier by helping with buried asset identification and electronic tagging. It can also help with the instalment of smart pipes which will ensure the efficient use of water resource. It’ll also help a lot in just in time repairs and real-time risk assessment.

Smart transport systems

Transport represents 23% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. However, leave alone human development, even human existence cannot be imagined without transport. Information technology comes to rescue over here, by providing for smart transport. ICTs provide us with ways to easily implement alternative ways of powering vehicles, such as with electricity. Smart transport also makes efficient use of routes and traffic data that is available through satellites, to make transport a less burdensome activity.

Awareness and education

This century has been officially proclaimed as the information era, and the role that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play in spreading awareness amongst the general public cannot be ignored. ICTs do an awesome job in spreading awareness and educating the mass. This feature of the ICTs can be very well utilised to spread awareness among the general population regarding the drastic effects of climate change, and also educate the masses regarding mitigation and adaptation strategies.


While the ICTs without a single strand of doubt can perform wonders in monitoring, preventing, and fighting climate change and its effects, they have often proved to be birds without wings in the absence of an equally strong legal framework. An accompanying strong legal framework will not only help protect the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the relevant data and information but also help in the effective administration of such systems.

Confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the relevant data and information must be protected without any exceptions whatsoever so as to successfully prevent climate change and fight the consequences thereof. A strong legal framework can go a long way in ensuring the same.


Accompanied by a strong legal framework, and adequate policy support, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) hold immense potential in preventing, monitoring, and fighting climate change successfully. Recognising this at the national and international level will go a long way in framing technologically-efficient climate control strategies with a strong ICT element therein. Lobby and policy support at local levels to include ICTs in climate control strategies will also be immensely helpful.

[1] In a symposium, organized by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and hosted by Ghana’s ministry of Communications in Accra in July 2011.

[2] Energy and Buildings, Volume 115, 1 March 2016, Pages 102-111

Note: This post first appeared here.



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