The Unforeseen Consequences of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Society

A Systematic Review of Regulatory Gaps Generated by AI in the U.S.

by Carlos Ignacio Gutierrez Gaviria

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As a formal discipline, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is over 60 years old. In this time, breakthroughs in the field have generated technologies that compare to or outperform humans in tasks requiring creativity and complex reasoning. AI's growing catalog of applications and methods has the potential to profoundly affect public policy by generating instances where regulations are not adequate to confront the issues faced by society, also known as regulatory gaps.

The objective of this dissertation is to improve our understanding of how AI influences U.S. public policy. It systematically explores, for the first time, the role of AI in the generation of regulatory gaps. Specifically, it addresses two research questions:

  1. What U.S. regulatory gaps exist due to AI methods and applications?
  2. When looking across all of the gaps identified in the first research question, what trends and insights emerge that can help stakeholders plan for the future?

These questions are answered through a systematic review of four academic databases of literature in the hard and social sciences. Its implementation was guided by a protocol that initially identified 5,240 candidate articles. A screening process reduced this sample to 241 articles (published between 1976 and February of 2018) relevant to answering the research questions.

This dissertation contributes to the literature by adapting the work of Bennett-Moses and Calo to effectively characterize regulatory gaps caused by AI in the U.S. In addition, it finds that most gaps: do not require new regulation or the creation of governance frameworks for their resolution, are found at the federal and state levels of government, and AI applications are recognized more often than methods as their cause.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Regulatory Gaps

  • Chapter Two

    Background on Artificial Intelligence

  • Chapter Three

    Protocol for the Systematic Review

  • Chapter Four

    Cases of Regulatory Gaps Identified in the Systematic Review

  • Chapter Five

    Overview of the Systematic Review

  • Chapter Six

    Case Studies on Under-Represented Issues in the Systematic Review

  • Chapter Seven


  • Appendix A

    Detailed Table of Contents

  • Appendix B

    Defining Technology

  • Appendix C

    Selected Historical Precedents for AI

  • Appendix D

    PRISMA Checklist

  • Appendix E

    Screening of Articles

  • Appendix F

    Systematic Review Articles

  • Appendix G

    Definitions of Autonomous Weapon Systems

  • Appendix G

    Standards for Meaningful Human Control

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in January 2020 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Dave Baiocchi (Chair), Nidhi Kalra, John Seely Brown, and William Welser IV. This work was funded by the Government of Mexico, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, and by the Pardee RAND Graduate School through its Redesign Dissertation Award.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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