St. Mary's Law Journal


Emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution show fundamental promise for improving productivity and quality of life, though their misuse may also cause significant social disruption. For example, while artificial intelligence will be used to accelerate society’s processes, it may also displace millions of workers and arm cybercriminals with increasingly powerful hacking capabilities. Similarly, human gene editing shows promise for curing numerous diseases, but also raises significant concerns about adverse health consequences related to the corruption of human and pathogenic genomes.

In most instances, only specialists understand the growing intricacies of these novel technologies. As the complexity and speed of technological advancement continuously escalates, so does the resulting burden for legislators—who are tasked with drafting effective policy frameworks to account for potential concerns, and judges—who are tasked with interpreting and applying these frameworks to disputes arising from the use of ever-more complicated technologies, the operations of which are important to arriving at the correct legal outcome.

This Article proposes a method for efficiently determining applicable liability standards to situations in which technological change outpaces legislative capacity and policymaking. This method, which uses simple variables common to mass action procedure, is applied herein to propose tort liability standards for the expected legal problems associated with artificial intelligence, the “Internet of Things,” and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to demonstrate its efficacy.

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Melissa Fullmer