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Utrecht Data School


29 September 2020
13:15 - 14:15

Prof. dr. Mireille Hildebrandt: Legal protection by design

Hosted by the special interest group Principles by design (Governing the Digital Society), Utrecht University in the Netherlands

Lawyers and computer scientists tend to turn the domain of the ‘other’ into a black box, assuming that the output of their respective domains is a collection of uncontested scientifically sound truths. With the concept of Legal Protection by Design I aim to contribute to (re)designing our information and communication infrastructure (ICI) in a way that is not merely compliant with legal rules such as those of data protection law, but actually affords reinventing and sustaining the rule of law (fundamental rights protection, checks and balances, contestability). This implies moving beyond mutual black boxing while nevertheless respecting the domain specificity of the other discipline. It requires lawyers to develop sufficient understanding of the assumptions and limitations of computer science to pierce inflated expectations, and it requires computer scientists to develop acuity with regard to ‘what law does’ and ‘how law operates’. In this luncheon talk I will focus on how we can develop a set of design principles that contribute to machine learning practices conducive to ‘rule of law’ institutions that aim to enhance human agency and support a pluralistic, fair and resilient human society.

Mireille Hildebrandt is a Research Professor on ‘Interfacing Law and Technology’ at Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB), appointed by the VUB Research Council. She is co-Director of the Research Group on Law Science Technology and Society studies (LSTS) at the Faculty of Law and Criminology. Her latest book, Law for Computer Scientists and Other Folks (2020, OUP) is available in open access: http://fdslive.oup.com/www.oup.com/academic/pdf/openaccess/9780198860884.pdf.

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