Sovereignity and the Governance of Artificial Intelligence


This Essay explores the concept of sovereignty in relation to artificial intelligence. Although sovereignty has long been used to describe the status of nation states, the concept of sovereignty is used in multiple ways in the digital context. It is used to articulate state policies in relation to artificial intelligence (AI) and data, an assertion of state sovereignty that often has extraterritorial effects. It is also used by many Indigenous communities to articulate the relevance of control over data—in a data-driven world—to self-determination. The concept of sovereignty is also applied to describe the relationship of individuals to both data and technology, and in this sense, it is meant to highlight the importance of individual control over the defining elements of self. The concept of sovereignty clearly speaks to ideas of autonomy and control and takes on particular importance in a context in which AI technologies challenge these concepts in novel ways. This Essay explores the shifting concept of sovereignty and examines what it means for the regulation of AI, paying particular attention to the data dimensions of AI.

About the Author

Dr. Teresa Scassa is the Canada Research Chair in Information Law and Policy at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law where she is also a member of the Centre for Law, Technology and Society. Teresa’s research addresses digital and data governance issues. She currently sits on Canadian Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence and has also served as Scholar-in-Residence at the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office. She is a co-editor of the books AI and the Law in Canada (2021), Law and the Sharing Economy (2017), and The Future of Open Data (2022). She is co-author of Digital Commerce in Canada (2020) and Canadian Intellectual Property Law (2022).