Graphic: Masthead for Artificial Rights? Symposium.

Artificial Rights?

Washburn Law's Robert J. Dole Center for Law and Government in partnership with the Washburn Law Journal is pleased to host "Artificial Rights?"

The symposium will be held Thursday, November 5, 2020. It will be broadcast live via Zoom. Please register to receive the link for the Symposium.

The symposium will explore the rights—and wrongs—of artificial intelligence (AI) and the extent to which AI has rights and can infringe rights. While AI continues to expand into every aspect of our lives and of the law, it is not clear what AI actually is and what rights it possesses. Is AI capable of regulating itself? Can it be trusted? And what happens when it commits wrongs? Special focus will be given to the significance of artificial intelligence and the impact of intelligent machines across multiple areas of the law. The symposium will consist of a keynote speaker and two panels.

  • Machine Rights
  • Keynote: Machine Inventions
  • Machine Wrongs

See the Symposium on Twitter at #wljartificialrights.

Watch all videos or view individual panels and the keynote below.

Symposium Schedule

NOTE: All times shown below are Central Time (CT); e.g., 9:50 a.m. CT = 10:50 a.m. Eastern Time = 8:50 a.m. Mountain Time = 7:50 a.m. Pacific Time.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

9:50 a.m. – Welcome

Photograph: Shawn Leisinger. Photograph: Rachel Schwein.

  • Shawn S. Leisinger, Associate Dean for Centers and External Programs, Washburn University School of Law
  • Rachel Schwein, Editor-in-Chief, Washburn Law Journal

10:00 a.m. – Panel 1: Machine Rights

The term "artificial intelligence" is often used, but not necessarily understood. What does it actually mean? AI could have rights and regulate itself. Is AI a person, too? Should we be concerned with the amount of data being collected and how it is being used by AI? And how should AI be protected as intellectual property?

Photograph: Ryan Abbott. Photograph: David Opderbeck. Photograph: Bryan Choi.

Photograph: Patricia Judd.

  • Ryan Abbott, Professor of Law and Health Sciences, University of Surrey (United Kingdom) [ Bio ]
    Follow on Twitter @DrRyanAbbott.
  • David Opderbeck, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology, Seton Hall University School of Law [ Bio ]
    Follow on Twitter @cyberseclawyer.
  • Bryan H. Choi, Assistant Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law [ Bio ]
    Follow on Twitter @BryanHChoi.
  • Moderator: Patricia Judd, Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law [ Bio ]

12:00 p.m. – Lunch (on your own)

12:30 p.m. – Keynote Address: Machine Inventions

If AI creates an invention, should it receive a patent? People have relied on tools, and computers, to create inventions for years. At what point does a computer system become an inventor? Is such an invention even eligible for a patent? The patent system is created to encourage innovation and promote disclosure. Are these purposes fulfilled when AI invents?

Photograph: Paige Hungate.

  • Introduction: Paige E. Reese, Senior Articles Editor, Washburn Law Journal

Photograph: Katherine Gaudry.

  • Katherine S. Gaudry, Partner, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP [ Bio ]

1:15 p.m. – Panel 2: Machine Wrongs

Artificial intelligence continues to expand into many areas of our life, as well as into many areas of the law. The fields of health care, employment, contracts, military defense, criminal justice, and insurance often rely on AI to make decisions. But the algorithms on which AI is based have inherent biases and can be used in abusive manners. Can AI discriminate? How can we tell? And what happens if it does? Who is responsible, and how do we stop it?

Photograph: Arthur Rizer. Photograph: Kimberly Houser. Photograph: Bob Lambrechts.

Photograph: David Rubenstein. Photograph: Freddy Sourgens.

  • Arthur Rizer, Director, Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties Policy, R Street Institute; George Mason University [ Bio ]
    Follow on Twitter @arthurrizer.
  • Kimberly A. Houser, Assistant Clinical Professor of Business Law and the Law of Emerging Technologies, University of North Texas [ Bio ]
    Follow on Twitter @kimberlyhouser.
  • Robert J. Lambrechts, Partner, Lathrop GPM [ Bio ]
  • David Rubenstein, James R. Ahrens Chair in Constitutional Law and Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law [ Bio ]
  • Moderator: Frederic Sourgens, Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law [ Bio ]
    Follow on Twitter @FSourgens.

2:45 p.m. – Closing Comments and Adjourn

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Date / Location

Thursday, November 5, 2020

This event will be broadcast live via Zoom. The link will be sent to those individuals who register.

Washburn Law Journal Special Issue

Washburn Law Journal, volume 60, issue 3 (spring/summer 2021), will be dedicated to the topic of this symposium, and will feature articles written by the participants. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to take advantage of this opportunity for publication by submitting an article or essay. Authors who cannot attend the symposium, but would like to submit, will also be considered for publication in the Journal.

Recent symposium issues of the Washburn Law Journal have focused on

See the Journal's archive for other past issues.

Inquiries about publication opportunities in the Washburn Law Journal should be directed to Rachel Schwein, Editor-in-Chief, at

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General Inquiries

Shawn Leisinger
Associate Dean for Centers and External Programs
(785) 670-2464

Professor Freddy Sourgens
Director, Oil and Gas Law Center
(785) 670-1772

Professor David Rubenstein
Director, Center for Law and Government
(785) 670-1682

Rachel Schwein
Editor-in-Chief, Washburn Law Journal

Paige Reese
Senior Articles Editor, Washburn Law Journal

Media Contact

Shelia Summers
Director of Marketing Communications
(785) 670-1784