Each week, Daniels is featuring a researcher who conducts meaningful research that impacts their field and the wider community. Learn more about their work in Q&As with the Daniels Research team and email them to nominate yourself or a colleague for a future Q&A. 

Libbi Levine Segev

Mark Levine

Mark Lee Levine is a professor in the Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management with more than 50 years of experience as a real estate broker, attorney, investor and professor. He has lectured all over the world and is a five-time Fulbright Scholar to countries including China (2), the UAE, Canada and Israel. He has authored 58 books and over 300 articles. Levine holds various certifications and licenses, including CCIM, CIPS, CLU, ChFC, CPM, CRB, CRE, CREA, CRS, SRS, GRI, MAI, FRICS, FIABCI, Cert. FIABCI, Emeritus DREI and GAA.

In addition to teaching, Levine practices law and brokerage, testifies as an expert, and has led international delegations to multiple locations worldwide. He is considered one of the foremost experts in American and international real estate law and real estate tax law in the U.S.

Libbi Levine Segev is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies. In addition to her teaching, Libbi is a licensed Colorado attorney and real estate broker. She also has co-authored numerous articles, co-authored a major real estate tax treatise. Libbi holds many certifications, such as REALTOR, CIPS and FIREC, and has served as the National Association of Realtors’ president’s liaison to Israel. . Libbi has presented all over the world, focusing on topics including business law, real estate, ethics and international law.

Libbi earned her bachelor’s of arts from Brandeis University, both her juris doctorate and master’s of science in real estate and construction management from the University of Denver, and an LLM from New York University. She spent many years with two law firms, practicing in the areas of business and real estate law. She continues to teach while practicing law and working in real estate brokerage.

What do you study?

Libbi: We like to keep it interesting by looking at a bunch of different subjects. I would say that we look at the implications of given actions in different areas. Recently, we’ve undertaken research and writing in the area of driverless vehicles and what might be the implications of allowing them to operate in a region. That is, how might driverless vehicles impact areas of law, real estate, ethics, taxes and more?

How are you looking at those implications? What is your methodology?

Mark: We’re looking at who is responsible if one is involved in an accident. What are the effects of these vehicles on various classes of real estate? For example, if a driverless vehicle is just dropping you off at a location, maybe you don’t need as much parking. And maybe you don’t need to own a car at all. The whole society is changing and the legal rules, real estate rules, insurance, liability and most everything changes along with it.

Another example involving these vehicles: Many municipalities are having trouble creating rules around driverless vehicles, because statutes address the driver of the vehicle. The driver is responsible for driving in a careless manner. But what if there is no driver? In our research we are looking at these laws and the language that must be modified when there is no driver. This is a whole new area.

Libbi: To oversimplify it a little bit, there are typically two routes that you can take regarding research of the law. One is what has happened via court decisions, which might set a precedent that will help decide future cases. The other approach is when there is a totally new area where no law has been formed. In this setting, with no prior established law, it is necessary to look at other sources, such as statistics in a related field, which might help form the new law.

How does this work relate to ethics?

Mark: Sometimes serious decisions must be made by those employing driverless vehicles (such as deciding who might be injured or die in an accident) when considering those in the driverless vehicle, other drivers in other cars, pedestrians, etc.

Libbi: We call this area of study “traffic ethics.” How should these vehicles be programmed? Hopefully, car accidents will be reduced significantly with this driverless technology. There are statistics that show that accidents can be reduced by something like 90% with the use of driverless vehicles. But it’s inevitable that even these driverless vehicles will get into accidents.   Then the question is to determine who will suffer from the accident. Let’s say the brakes stop working. Does the vehicle continue on its path and hit a wall with the passengers inside? Or does it veer off and hit pedestrians, but protect the passengers? These are difficult choices to make.

Mark: Somebody is making these decisions; somebody is programming that vehicle. With such accidents, who gets sued? The programmer? The passenger? The manufacturer? Others?

Libbi: MIT did a study about these questions. MIT created a survey where people could comment as to how they think a driverless vehicle should respond in various scenarios. If given no other option, should the car hit a grandma crossing the street or a baby? Should pedestrians be injured, or should the injuries fall on the passengers? And some of what MIT discovered was that these responses vary geographically. The baby vs. grandma question is answered very differently, for example, in the U.S. versus in southeast Asia. There are also business implications, economic implications, legal and even medical considerations as to choices that are made in the programing of the driverless vehicles.

These questions make this driverless vehicle area very challenging. Such challenges create some of the reasons for the delay in seeing more driverless vehicles on the road.

How do you incorporate your research into the classroom?

Libbi: We examine many real-world settings, as described above. This creates an atmosphere of interest for our students; they realize the use of driverless vehicles will impact everyone.  Students can also see how law develops as new discoveries are made. Another good example of this issue, today, is the concern with potential new laws and rules that will govern the use of artificial intelligence.