On the Regulation of Algorithms

Hosted by the Department of Law

Moot Court Room, 7.02, New Academic Building, LSE


Professor Arno R. Lodder

Visiting Fellow, Department of Law, LSE


Professor Andrew Murray

Professor of Law, Department of Law, LSE

In this lecture, Professor Arno Lodder will present his initial ideas on the regulation of algorithms.

Algorithms used to be referred to as what software does based on programmed instructions, or more accurately, as a step-by-step plan to reach given a certain input a certain output. This meaning of algorithm is correct, still. However, algorithms are often not coded as such these days, but the software is designed and trained (sometimes self-learning) to derive algorithms from analysing sets of data. In the area of law and technology as well as in many other disciplines the interest in algorithms these days usually refers to the latter type of algorithms. In his research, Professor Lodder focuses on algorithms that create profiles, support decisions and sometimes even take decisions.

Algorithms do many very useful things, such as analysing medical records to identify what might cause a particular disease or what could be done in terms of prevention, and more mundane tasks as advising what music to listen to next or what series to watch. Algorithms can also decide you do not get a loan, that you are a person of interest to intelligence agencies, or that you are likely to become a criminal and should be kept an eye on. Sometimes algorithms can become a threat, in the context of mass surveillance by both businesses and governments, or particular applications of facial recognition. A worrying example from April 2019 is the secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs in China.

Given what algorithms can and might do, we as a society in general and lawyers in particular have a responsibility to decide how we want to shape the world we live in. What algorithms we do allow and what not, and if we allow algorithms under what conditions. 

Arno R. Lodder (@ARLodder) is a professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Department Transnational Legal Studies, Centre for Law and Internet), and Of Counsel at SOLV lawyers. In his research and lecturing he focuses on topics related to law and internet, such as liability, contracting, security, privacy, freedom of speech, cybercrime; and phenomena related to algorithms, big data, social media, cyberwar, internet of things, smart devices and apps.

He has published over 30 (co-)edited and (co-)authored books, such as DiaLaw on Legal Justification and Dialogical Models of Argumentation (1999), Information Technology and Lawyers. Advanced Technology in the Legal Domain (2006), Enhanced Dispute Resolution Through the Use of Information Technology (2010), Cyberlaw in the Netherlands (2016), and EU Regulation of E-commerce (2017).

He is involved in the Dutch legal master Internet, IP and ICT (2011-), the English Bachelor Minor Technology, Law, and Ethics (2017-), and the English legal master International Technology Law (2018-). His internet law group offers about 15 courses in Dutch/English on legal (and ethical) aspects of i.a. blockchain (master course as of 2018/19), robots and artificial intelligence (bachelor course as of 2017/18, master 2018/19), e-commerce, data protection, copyright, and cybercrime. He supervised over 100 master theses, and 7 Ph.D theses (currently 10 Ph.d students).

Andrew Murray (@AndrewDMurray) is Professor of Law with particular reference to New Media and Technology Law and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA). Andrew studied law at Edinburgh University, from where he graduated (LL.B. Hons) in 1994. He undertook the one year Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice during 1994-95 and then spent one year as a research assistant in the Department of Private Law, University of Edinburgh before taking up a lectureship in law at the University of Stirling in 1996. He joined the LSE Law Department in September 2000. As well as holding memberships of: The Society of Computers and Law (SCL); The Higher Education Academy (HEA) and The David Hume Institute, Andrew was from 2001-2004 an Executive Member of the British and Irish Law, Education and Technology Association (BILETA); and was from 2002-2008 a recognised 'Independent Expert' of the Nominet UK Dispute Resolution Procedure and from 2007-2012 a Fellow of the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn. He is a visiting professor at the Computer/Law Institute, VU Amsterdam and was a visiting professor in the Ecole de Droit, Sciences Po, Paris in Lent Term 2015 and at the Paris School of International Affairs in Lent Term 2017. In 2018/19 he was the specialist advisor to the House of Lords Communications Committee inquiry “Regulating in a Digital World”. 

The LSE Department of Law (@LSELaw) is an integral part of the School's mission, plays a major role in policy debates and in the education of lawyers and law teachers from around the world.


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