Posts From Category: presentations
In February 2023 I was invited to a research seminar at the University of Helsinki’s Legal Tech Lab.
The title of my talk was “Legal Technologies and the Effect on Legal Effect”. The talk was about the concept of ‘legal effect’, which is core to the nature of what law is and how it works, and how legal technologies might have an impact on that concept.
It connects in with all the theoretical work I’ve been doing with COHUBICOL, with a practical and forward-looking twist: how do actual technologies and digital systems mediate the force and the nature of law? This research interest goes right back to the first publication from my PhD, ‘Law as a User: Design, Affordance, and the Technological Mediation of Norms’.
In 2022 I was honoured to be invited to speak about my book Digisprudence to the Scottish Law and Innovation Network (SCOTLIN), as part of their series of (En)lightening talks. My colleague Pauline McBride was kind enough to introduce the talk and to moderate the discussion afterwards.
Here’s a recording:
Last month I had the privilege of being invited to deliver a talk to the Catalan Center for Legal Studies and Specialised Training, a centre for judicial training in Barcelona. The title of talk was ‘AI & the compression of law’, and in it my goal was to debunk the idea of the ‘robot judge’ (always depicted as a glassy white robot figure, either with a blindfold or the scales of justice). Instead, I argued, the worry with the use of AI in law is not the replacement of judges, but rather the subtle reshaping of their activities (and those of other parties in the litigation sphere) by systems whose machine learning underpinnings are geared toward a form of optimisation and relevance that are not necessarily compatible with legal notions of optimality or relevance.
Presented at the conference on the Philosophy of Human-Technology Relations (PHTR), November 2020
In a constitutional democracy, the operation of law relies on the multi-interpretability of language and the possibility of contesting meaning. These capabilities are assumed in the contemporary structures of rule creation, interpretation, adjudication, and enforcement. When new technologies are introduced into those structures, such as AI/machine learning or self-executing rules (e.g. smart contracts), new mediations necessarily enter the frame.
Presented in the ‘slow science’ series at LSTS, the ideas in this presentation were the basis for the paper Interpreting the Rule(s) of Code: Performance, Performativity, and Production (2021)
Computational legalism refers to the ontological features of digital systems that make it impossible for humans to see, interpret, and contest the rules that they contain and impose. When software code structures our behavioural possibilities, it forces us to act ‘legalistically’, that is, like automatons: we don’t think, but simply act in accordance with the structures laid down by the code, because we have no other choice (unless the system’s designer has elected to give us one). This paper/discussion seeks to view and challenge computational legalism through the lens of critical code studies, the explication of a digital system’s meaning by the interpretive or hermeneutic analysis of its text, i.e. its source code. These texts play a fundamental role in the constitution of all digital systems, and so any analysis cannot be complete without at least some engagement at that level. Looking at digital systems from this angle is relevant to real-world processes of designing and producing code, and might help us to identify normative possibilities for combatting the vices of computational legalism.
Presented at TRILcon, University of Winchester, April 2018. This paper was later published as Law as a User: Design, Affordance, and the Technological Mediation of Norms.
Technology law scholars have recently begun to consider the design studies concept of affordance, bringing it into the legal fold both as a means to explain how the law has developed the way it has, and more recently in attempts to cast the law per se as an affordance.
Presented at BILETA 2018, University of Aberdeen.
The literature concerning the regulation of technology is rightly beginning to focus more on ex ante, or ‘by design’, enforcement. Despite almost two decades having passed since Lawrence Lessig’s Code was first published, the acceptance that ‘code’ (as opposed to law) has the power to regulate, and an appreciation of that power, is still developing, particularly since it requires a level of interdisciplinary openness to which the conservative legal world is occasionally hostile.
Presented at BILETA 2016, University of Hertfordshire, where it won the Google Award for Best Postgraduate Paper. It was later published as Opening the Black Box: Petri Nets and Privacy by Design.