It has been said many times that AI will “disrupt” most industries, and it seems the knock-on effect on product safety considerations is inevitable. However, existing EU and UK product safety laws, which have served as examples worldwide, were not designed to accommodate technologies that were unknown when the legislation was conceived. As AI becomes more commonly integrated into consumer products, reform is needed to protect people and provide businesses with certainty on the extent of their obligations, and a framework within which to operate. The nature of AI as a mutating, data-reliant and autonomous technology is an inherent challenge to any sort of predictability around enforcement mechanisms, mitigation of harm, and where responsibility for safety should sit. While these same issues face all governments, each jurisdiction will likely approach them in their own way, perhaps dependent on other priorities, including fostering economic growth.
In this article, our Environmental, Safety and Health team discuss the relevance of AI to product safety, current coverage of AI risks under existing product safety regimes, and recent developments and proposals in the EU and UK.