Regulating the Tyrell Corporation: company law and the emergence of novel beings


  • Dr David Lawrence

    Newcastle University

Project summary

One forthcoming challenge for policy and regulation is the potential emergence of new types of being, both sapient and not, through advances in synthetic genome technologies and the development of artificial intelligences (AI). It seems likely that these technologies will be produced by public companies and multinational corporations. The main source of regulation for these bodies derives from company law and we have to decide whether the beings they produce should be accorded a legal personality. This decision will inform how heavily corporations should be involved in the development and application of these technologies.

This poses a question as to whether company law can, or should, be the primary means of regulating these novel beings and the potentially wide-ranging impact on society. This is not merely speculative; the European Parliament has already proposed legislation that includes electronic corporate personhood for AI systems.

We will establish a network to consider these future technological developments, and suggest practical legal definitions for the status of both conscious and unconscious novel beings. These can be used to develop and inform proposals for appropriate regulation to ensure the responsible development, operation and disposal of the technologies.