Publications & presentations

Here’s an overview of my academic publications and related work. See also my Google Scholar profile.


Digisprudence: Code as Law Rebooted (Edinburgh University Press 2022)

Book available open access at De Gruyter

This book offers exceptionally well-argued insights on law and technology. Diver’s understanding and deployment of ideas from legal theory and a range of disciplines makes this a brilliant critique of how we have come to understand “code” and the role of those who design it. With the regulation of emerging technologies and of powerful players high on the political agenda – concerns still too often simplified or misunderstood – Digisprudence presents fresh and exciting ways of understanding these issues.
Prof. Daithí Mac Síthigh, Institute of Art, Design + Technology

Digisprudence book cover

Reboots the debate on ‘code as law’ to present a new cross-disciplinary direction that sheds light on the fundamental issue of software legitimacy

  • Reinvigorates the debate at the intersection of legal theory, philosophy of technology, STS and design practice
  • Synthesises theories of legitimate legal rulemaking with practical knowledge of code production tools and practice
  • Proposes a set of affordances that can legitimise code in line with an ecological view of legality
  • Draws on contemporary technologies as case studies, examining blockchain applications and the Internet of Things

Laurence Diver combines insight from legal theory, philosophy of technology and programming practice to develop a new theoretical and practical approach to the design of legitimate software. The book critically engages with the rule(s) of code, arguing that, like laws, these should exhibit certain formal characteristics if they are to be acceptable in a democracy. The resulting digisprudential affordances translate ideas of legitimacy from legal philosophy into the world of code design, to be realised through the ‘constitutional’ role played by programming languages, integrated development environments (IDEs), and agile development practice. The text interweaves theory and practice throughout, including many insights into real-world technologies, as well as case studies on blockchain applications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Whenever you use a smartphone, website, or IoT device, your behaviour is determined to a great extent by a designer. Their software code defines from the outset what is possible, with very little scope to interpret the meaning of those ‘rules’ or to contest them. How can this kind of control be acceptable in a democracy? If we expect legislators to respect values of legitimacy when they create the legal rules that govern our lives, shouldn’t we expect the same from the designers whose code has a much more direct rule over us?


Articles & chapters

  1. L Diver, P McBride, M Medvedeva, A Banerjee, E D’hondt, T Duarte, D Dushi, G Gori, E van den Hoven, P Meessen, M Hildebrandt, (2022) ‘Typology of Legal Technologies’ (COHUBICOL). AbstractView online
  2. L Diver and P McBride, (2022) ‘Argument by Numbers: The Normative Impact of Statistical Legal TechCommunitas. AbstractView online
  3. L Diver, (2021) ‘Digisprudence: The Design of Legitimate Code’ 13(2) Law, Innovation and Technology. AbstractView online
  4. L Diver, (2021) ‘Interpreting the Rule(s) of Code: Performance, Performativity, and Production’ (2021) MIT Computational Law Report. AbstractView online
  5. L Diver, (2020) ‘Computational Legalism and the Affordance of Delay in Law’ 1(1) Journal of Cross-disciplinary Research in Computational Law. AbstractView online
  6. J Zomignani Barboza, L Jasmontaitė-Zaniewicz, L Diver, (2020) ‘Aid and AI: The Challenge of Reconciling Humanitarian Principles and Data ProtectionPrivacy and Identity 2019: Privacy and Identity Management. Data for Better Living: AI and Privacy 161. AbstractView online
  7. L Diver, (2018) ‘Law as a User: Design, Affordance, and the Technological Mediation of Norms’ 15(1) SCRIPTed 4. AbstractView online
  8. L Diver and B Schafer, (2018) ‘Opening the Black Box: Petri Nets and Privacy by Design’ 31(1) International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 68. AbstractView online
  9. L Edwards, D McAuley, L Diver, (2016) ‘From privacy impact assessment to social impact assessmentIEEE Security and Privacy Workshops (SPW) 53. AbstractView online
  10. B Schafer, D Komuves, JMN Zatarain, L Diver, (2015) ‘A fourth law of robotics? Copyright and the law and ethics of machine co-production’ 23(3) Artificial Intelligence and Law 217. AbstractView online
  11. D Komuves, JN Zatarain, B Schafer, L Diver, (2015) ‘Monkeying Around with Copyright – Animals, AIs and Authorship in LawInternationales Rechtsinformatik Symposion (IRIS) 26. AbstractView online
  12. L Diver, (2008) ‘Would the current ambiguities within the legal protection of software be solved by the creation of a sui generis property right for computer programs?’ 3(2) Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice 125. AbstractView online

Talks & conference presentations

  • AI & the compression of law’, Catalan Center for Legal Studies and Specialised Training 2022. Abstract
  • Technological mediation vs. the Rule of Law’, Conference on the Philosophy of Human-Technology Relations 2020. Abstract
  • Computational Legalism vs. Critical Code Studies’, Law, (Slow) Science, Technology & Society gatherings at LSTS 2020. Abstract
  • Legal Tech, or Story of Your [Legal] Life’, Gikii 2019. Abstract
  • The law as (mere) user: affordance and the mediation of law by technological artefacts’, TRILcon 2018. Abstract
  • Digisprudence: developing a legal-theoretical approach to compliance by design’, BILETA 2018. Abstract
  • The lawyer in the machine: towards the automation of privacy by design’, BILETA 2016. Abstract

Commentaries, book reviews, blog posts