Client Alerts

Client Alert: The Alan Turing Institute and King’s College London Institute for Artificial Intelligence Host Volterra Fietta Partner Gunjan Sharma to Discuss AI and Space Law

Volterra Fietta Client Alert
11 March 2024

On Friday, 8 March 2024, at the invitation of the Alan Turing Institute and King’s College London’s Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Volterra Fietta Partner Gunjan Sharma discussed the development of space law to accommodate artificial intelligence applications.  The panel was hosted as part of AI UK Fringe.

The event was hosted at the River Room at King’s College London, on the Strand.  As a keynote address, Professor Yang Gao, FIET, FRAeS, the Head of the Centre for Robotics Research at King’s College London, discussed the current and planned uses of artificial intelligence in space robotics and operations.  Thereafter, the virtual and in-person audience heard from a panel of experienced space professionals on each of their relevant areas of expertise.  In addition to Mr Sharma discussing international space law, the panel included (a) Dr Mark Woods, the Chief Strategy Officer at CFMS, focused on space robotics and autonomy; (b) Dr Pete Hodkinson, the Head of Aerospace Medicine (Clinical and Education) at King’s College London, focused on the use of AI technology to provide medical aid to astronauts in space; (c) Professor Andrew Coates, Professor of Physics at the Department of Space and Climate Physics at UCL, focused on AI operations in space; and (d) Dr Tony Milligan, Research Fellow, Philosophy of Ethics, King’s College London, a noted space ethicist.

In his presentation, Mr Sharma discussed the potential risks of autonomous AI-driven space operations, in particular the risk of harmful radiofrequency interference as defined by the International Telecommunications Union.  Mr Sharma noted that the lack of established liability and damages standards for space operations, caused in part by the antedated nature of the 1972 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, had created a lacuna in the appropriate standards of designing and engineering AI-based space operations.  Fellow panellists concurred, with several then calling for more robust domestic and international regulation of AI in space operations so that engineers and scientists knew in advance the standards to which their work might be held.

Volterra Fietta is the only law firm in the world dedicated to public international law, which includes the international law relevant to space and orbits.  Volterra Fietta’s lawyers are counsel in the world’s most prominent space-related international disputes.  The partners at Volterra Fietta thank the Alan Turning Institute and King’s College London for the opportunity to participate in this compelling and successful discussion.

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