Many states have now abrogated the rule against perpetuities, opening their doors (and coffers) to perpetual trusts. When combined with advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, this creates a perfect storm for dead-hand control. This confluence is enabling the emergence of long or unlimited duration computer-managed trusts that operate autonomously as vehicles of vicarious immortality for the settlors who fund them. This article introduces the robo-trust, a trust using AI to flexibly respond to changing world conditions, and speculates about its likely legal and computational structure.
The robo-trust will be born from the age-old quest to live forever, the tools of which are often postmortem property controls and cutting-edge technology. Its unique adaptability will permit it to solve many of the problems that plague traditional perpetual trusts. It does however raise concerns regarding public policy, namely indefiniteness. An analysis of these concerns is presented in the context of two approaches to the robo-trustís uniquely bifurcated structure—whether the computer program is a component of the trust instrument or is a tool for the trusteeís administration. The latter view is essential for the robo-trustís validity, and is the more likely conception of its structure. The best defense against the proliferation of these computer-managed trusts, and perpetual trusts in general, is a revival of the rule against perpetuities.