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Introduction

I work a lot in AI law and regulation across a few industries, and do a fair bit of guest lecturing/consulting too on AI governance topics for organisations. I often get asked by people just getting started in this area (Law students, CompSci students interested in policy/regulation, people working in technical AI, people reskilling/moving career etc) on how best to get to grips with AI law / policy / regulation ‘from zero’. I got asked after a recent lecture I gave whether there was a ‘list’ anywhere, so I sent a basic list to them over email. I figured I would expand this list and post it here in case it helps anyone else just getting into the area of AI governance.

Why books? Online courses are a great resource because they are constantly updated, but they do come in a variety of quality ranges and reliability of sources. Books are another great avenue because they tend to have a higher quality bar and can be very detailed, as well as being consumed at leisure. Also, I’m a sucker for books at the best of times. Remember that some legal books are not intended to be read front to back.

Some of these are for beginners, some are a bit more advanced, but these are clearly labelled and all of these are perfectly readable by anyone with an interest in the subject area. Black letter law texts were excluded on this basis. It is worth noting that these are UK-centric in some cases, but the core challenges and concepts are universal and I’ve listed jurisdiction in case that is useful.

These are just ones I have read myself - if I’ve missed any, please do let me know your recommendations!

Important note: I am not affiliated with any authors of these books, and do not gain financially from any sales. These are genuine unpaid recommendations for books I have read that are useful and provide practical subject knowledge.

Final Note: I use AI law / policy / regulation under the umbrella term 'AI Governance' fairly widely here because they overlap very heavily in terms of coverage. Your definitions may vary.

General Introductory Books

Books which are useful for those just starting

Title: 'Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence'

Jurisdiction: UK-centric, but EU application considered also (NA too to a limited degree)

Cost: £21

One of the best starting points for those new to the regulation of AI is ‘Robot Rules’ by Jacob Turner. This is for several reasons - it is written for those merely interested in regulatory challenges with AI and not for experts (so the text is very readable and relatively jargon-free), and it is focused primarily on the day-to-day regulatory challenges and does not concern itself with more esoteric risks. It is also exploratory and descriptive (in that it details the what and why of regulatory challenges) but is not prescriptive and does not seek to propose answers. This is actually a good thing for an introductory text.

The book is quite big so there’s a lot of information there, and is still very up to date. Legal concepts like agency are explained clearly for the lay-person too which is useful for non-law readers, but it does go into lots of detail about exactly why AI poses novel challenges to law which is useful for law readers. A great middle ground, and probably the best starting point in my opinion.
 

Title: 'Politics and Policy-Making in the UK'

Jurisdiction: UK

Cost: £25

This is a fantastic introduction to policy-making in the UK, and gives great background in this area. Perhaps most importantly it was released in 2023, and therefore includes policy-making post-Brexit and post-Pandemic which is something older books couldn’t have predicted. In all, this is a super readable book that gives a modern, up to date understanding of how UK public policy works via both a practical and theoretical framework. It is not AI-specific, but does give a good overview of the mechanisms by which AI policy is created both in hard procedural and softer influence terms.

Title: 'Regulating Artificial Intelligence in Industry'

Jurisdiction: Global

Cost: £40

This book gives a broad range of introductory discussions from various experts in-industry on how AI regulation is undertaken in their industries and how the law guides that. Industries include aviation, government, energy, military, and more. This is a very, very important area of knowledge for anyone interested in AI Governance from a practical standpoint. One of the major failure points I see in AI governance or policy ideas/projects/proposals is a lack of realistic implementation chance in-industry due to various factors. A good understanding of this is foundational for exploring governance.

More Detailed / Advanced Books

Books which are useful for more advanced readers (existing knowledge of law and policy, or patience required to learn on the go)

Title: 'Advanced Introduction to Law and Artificial Intelligence'

Jurisdiction: Global

Cost: £20

Edited by Woodrow Barfield and Ugo Pagallo (both big names in the law of AI), this book delves into how various jurisdictions and regimes deal with major issues in this area such as autonomous vehicles or the risks of increasingly complex AI systems. It compares regimes from UK, EU, and NA as well as further afield such as China, India, and Russia. It’s laid out simply by section, and is fantastic for referring to when you need information on AI law and regulation in a specific area such as human rights, intellectual property, criminal law, etc.

It is lighter on detail somewhat than some other tomes, but this is to further the readability which it achieves well. It is a reference more than an educational tome. The reason it is in the more detailed / advanced section of this list is because it does not explain any of the legal terms, and assumes a basic level of legal literacy (eg. law student level). It is perfectly readable by a normal reader who is prepared to Google any terms or ideas that are new to them.
 

Title: 'The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of Algorithms'

Jurisdiction: Global

Cost: £60 - £180 (depending on availability and retailer - no idea why)

First things first this book is massive. Even by law standards. I brought this on a plane to read once and it didn’t fit on the folding tray without bending it downwards and sliding off. I’m also fairly sure if I put it in my suitcase it would have taken me over my weight allowance! At just under 800 pages long and A4 in size, with what appears to be around size 10 text, it is easy to be put off or intimidated - yet the book is surprisingly readable despite its detail. Edited by Woodrow Barfield (from the previous book in this list), this one includes a lot of very detailed essays and explorations by leading legal scholars in various AI law and policy fields from the UK, EU, NA, Asia, and the wider world.

The book is written for legal scholars in an international manner, and so despite being quite readable (effort has obviously been made to keep the book readable for second language readers) there is a deep exploration of legal concepts in many areas which means to get the full value you either need a basic level of legal literacy or be willing to be patient with yourself and learn as you go.

 

Specialist Areas

Title: 'The AI Wave in Defence Innovation'

Jurisdiction: Global

Cost: £30

This very detailed book looks at AI specifically within a Defence context - ie military uses of AI. It is very recent and so comes after the initiation of the Russo-Ukrainian War and the Israel-Hamas War so takes account of how these have accelerated AI in military contexts too.

The book goes into a lot of detail on how various nations and groups of nations are advancing and deploying AI, as well as the various theories around how AI will impact the future of warfare and vice-versa. It’s very neutral and balanced, and a fantastic introduction for someone interested in AI Risk from a military perspective. Much research of this kind and depth is not public so it’s great to have a publicly available round-up of technologies and policies by experts in military technology matters.

A lot of academic research into AI risk in warfare suffers from a lack of understanding of the industry itself and how technology procurement and development in the military sphere works - so this book is great for plugging those gaps. It usefully covers military industry as well, and how that fits into the greater governance puzzle.

Title: 'Artificial Intelligence, Computational Modelling and Criminal Proceedings'

Jurisdiction: EU (but core concepts relevant globally)

Cost: £110

This book covers how AI and computational modelling impact various stages of procedure in the investigation and adjudication in criminal law. It focuses almost entirely on EU law (particularly ECHR case law) but is a fantastic guidebook on how AI simultaneously impacts and is impacted by not just AI legislation and policy but how AI is impacted by non-AI policy in the legal system.

Only really useful for UK-based folks if their area of specialism is criminal law OR have a deep interest in AI in investigative/adjudicative procedure, but very useful for EU folks.


Honourable Mentions

Books which could not be placed into above categories, but deserve highlighting

Title: 'The Oxford Handbook of AI Governance'

Jurisdiction: Global

Cost: £142

This is an ‘honourable mention’ because this book looks great but I haven’t read it (which is a criteria for this list). I intend to buy it at the end of this month, and may add it to the list post-read in the appropriate category. From the description and from the authors of the essays it looks like it will be high quality and cover many important areas in some good depth. The cost however is very prohibitive for many people. It is worth noting that I had a bit of a cheapskate snuffle and some of this book is available in pdf form via your academic institution for free - though it is always preferable to reward the contributors by purchasing when possible.


Summarising Remarks

I have no idea if this style of post is useful for anyone (I am trying to experiment with more useful ways of conveying some of this information) so do let me know.

I may compile a further list of sources we use in frontline AI legislation / safety / governance 'on the job' or more specialised in-industry materials depending on how useful this post is to people. It may be useful for those aiming to go into practical regulatory roles.


 

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 5:02 AM

Thank you for writing this! I was looking for resources to recommend to two students who recently joined my AI governance learning circle, and this was really helpful.

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