Faculty of law blogs / UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

Introducing a Special Series on Law and Autonomous Systems

This post introduces the ‘Law and Autonomous Systems' Series, a special series of posts based on contributions to the ‘Law of Autonomous Systems and the Automation of Law’ conference that took place in Oxford on 8 March 2018.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence (“AI”) research stand to significantly transform the law: both the way we practice law, and the way law performs its societal functions.

A defining feature of this transformation is the increased autonomy of artificial (computer) agents, and their ability to automate tasks previously performed by humans. Increasingly autonomous, data-driven processes create new challenges for law and policy. These include: how should the application of new technologies, such as machine learning, be regulated to provide adequate space for innovation whilst still protecting consumers and investors in increasingly disintermediated markets? How should data and privacy laws control the use and application of personal data in autonomous systems? How should liability be attributed or distributed where a (semi-) autonomous agent causes harm or loss? How does legal education and training need to change to equip the lawyers of tomorrow with the skills needed to manage increasingly automated legal processes? And, how should autonomous systems be designed so as to maximise their resilience to cyberattacks?  

Against this backdrop, the academic editors of the Oxford Business Law Blog selected “The Law of Autonomous Systems and the Automation of Law” as the theme of its 2018 annual conference. The conference took place on 8 March 2018 at St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford. It was organized around 4 roundtable discussions, on the following themes: (i) Smart Contracts and Dispute Resolution; (ii) FinTech; (iii) LegalTech; (iv) Cybersecurity and Data Control. Conference participants were asked to present their ideas on a topic relating to one of the roundtable themes and, following the conference, to submit a blog post for a special series of the Oxford Business Law Blog on “Law and Autonomous Systems”.

The Academic and the Associate Editors of the Oxford Business Law Blog are glad to announce that, in the next weeks, the posts of the conference participants will be published on the OBLB, grouped together by conference themes. We thereby hope to contribute to one of the most important policy debates of our times. The series starts today with posts by Martin Fries on “Smart Consumer Contracts”, and Andreas Hacke on “Micro-Justice and New Law”.

Horst Eidenmüller and Nikita Aggarwal, on behalf of the Academic and Associate Editors of the Oxford Business Law Blog.


With the support of