Graduating with a PhD: Innovation vs Safety when it comes to AI

PhD graduate, Dr Jennifer Graham explains the legal implications of AI

One of the most ground-breaking research areas of our time is the advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what it means for our future. But what are the legal implications? 

Dr Jennifer Graham, LJMU senior lecturer and PhD student has spent the past six years researching AI regulation and what it means in the legal field.  

Graduating in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Jennifer explained how she decided to study AI and its legal implications for her PhD

Jennifer said: “I was fascinated by this topic after being introduced to it by my lecturer and now colleague Dr. Alison Lui, and after completing my MA dissertation research, I realised the sheer scale of the issues resulting from AI use, and how we have barely any rules or laws in place to regulate it. This led me to complete my PhD on the topic of AI regulation, which has been an absolutely incredible (yet tough!) experience.” 

Jennifer’s thesis titled: ‘Innovation vs Safety: a critical examination of regulatory approaches to artificial intelligence’ has researched regulation around the world with the hope that regulation will one day be internationally aligned, something countries across the globe are beginning to consider. 

When it comes the legal safety concerns of AI, Jennifer explains:

“From a legal standpoint, the major concern regarding AI is liability, e.g. who is to blame when AI does something wrong or causes harm. This is a question we don't necessarily have a clear answer to yet, but it is a primary concern among not only lawmakers, but AI developers. AI has the capacity to learn from its environment, and therefore can adapt how it completes a task or how it decides based on its experiences. Because of this, AI can be rather unpredictable, and so there is a concern whether it is fair to place blame with an AI developer if the AI does something it was not necessarily programmed to do.” 

So, should we be cautious of AI and its legal implications? 

“It is more than likely that we each use some form of AI every single day. However, as with any technology, AI is not perfect and can make mistakes, so it is always worthwhile treating AI with some caution. Rather than placing the onus on the public to be cautious of AI though, I think we need to ask those developing the AI to do so responsibly, so that we can reap the benefits of AI with the reassurance that it is as safe as possible.” 

Jennifer is a Senior Lecturer in LJMU’s Law School. She began working at LJMU in 2018 then joined the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as a Cybersecurity Policy Advisor, before returning to LJMU in 2022 as Senior Lecturer in Law, focusing specifically on legal technology.  

Jennifer has completed her undergraduate law degree, MA and now PhD at LJMU, on studying at the university, Jennifer said:

“There are friendly staff here at LJMU, plus a real sense of community, I’ve loved the experience and made friends for life. I’m so glad I’ve experienced being a student here and a member of staff.” 

On graduating today with her PhD, she said:  

“It’s a really exciting day. It’s been such a long time coming to wear this gown, I’ve been studying my PhD for five years now and I’m really excited that I get to graduate alongside some of the third-year students who I have taught.” 

And Jennifer’s advice for anyone thinking about going into the field of research or academia:  

“I honestly have enjoyed every minute of my academic journey at LJMU, and I am very proud to now work for the institution that I studied at. I would really like to encourage any graduates that think they might be interested in academia to go for it; I know a lot of students suffer from imposter syndrome (me included) and think that they aren't 'clever' enough to pursue this as a career option (many don't even realise it is an option). So, for any students that think they might be interested, come and speak to us about it and give it a go!” 

Day three of LJMU summer graduation ceremonies  

Across Wednesday’s three ceremonies, hundreds of students graduated from the Faculty of Business and Law. 

You can find images from today’s ceremonies on the LJMU social channels and further information on the LJMU graduation webpages. 

Study Law at LJMU 

You can find out more about studying at LJMU's School of Law or view all LJMU’s courses here. 


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