Last week, our colleague Stefan Wrbka was invited to give a conference talk at the Université catholique de Lyon. Together with other international legal experts he discussed current legal challenges around the metaverse and presented together with Mark Fenwick (Kyushu University) insights gained on the question of a possible legal personality of avatars.
The invitation to Lyon followed a presentation at the University of Galway, Ireland last fall on legal challenges related to autonomous AI systems (self-driving cars, drones, robots). The talk was selected for publication in the prestigious Handbook of Artifical Intelligence (Cambridge University Press). The Lyon talk was also designated for publication in an international publisher.
The core question of both research projects was whether an extension of legal personality across natural and legal persons to new entities makes sense from a legal point of view. The conclusions were differentiated: while easier access to justice in combination with liability insurance are central arguments for the introduction of an electronic personhood in the case of autonomous AI systems, a separate legal personality for avatars is usually ruled out due to the lack of financial, avatar-own resources.