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Conference The Death of Law? Machines, Technology and Algorithms Deciding


The law as we know it today is the outcome of a “revolution” described by Harold J. Berman that, starting in the late Middle Age, was more or less fulfilled in Modernity after the French Revolution. Modernity is above all a process where the law is emancipated from hierarchical social structures and religious dependencies and projects itself as a universal mode of regulation that claims to be a moment forward in a teleological journey towards justice. There is an intrinsic claim to justice and progress. However, Modernity is the holder of two versions of universalizability: one equates universal law with universally acceptable rules, the other one means by universal law no more than generally causally applicable laws. It is the modernity related to technique that gets the upper hand. In this new millennium technique, technology, machine have accelerated their hegemony. Nature was cracked open in the last century as nuclear fission was discovered leading to a new type of energy and cloning of biological organisms became possible. Finally, the development of computer science has raised the claim of an artificial intelligence that might be able to replace human operations. All these three developments put our practice and concept of law in question. With the rise of artificial intelligence and the increasing dominance of technology, there is a growing concern about the erosion of empathy, free will, and the very essence of human subjectivity. Universality as general causality is replacing universality as general acceptability. This landscape pushes towards a radical transformation of our practice of law towards a destination that might plausibly be labelled as “death of law”. This conference seeks to assess the meaning and consequences of such possible “death of law” and whether this “death” really is the final destination of our legal culture and world. How much “disenchantment” of the world (Weber), an iron cage as the ruling of machines and algebraic formulae, how much “nudity” of the humans (Agamben), reduced just to manipulable bunches of genes and cells, can the law tolerate? 

3-4th of October, 2024

Tallinn University (Maximum) & ZOOM


Thursday, 3rd October

10:00 Opening words

First Session: Is Law withering away?  Chairing: Prof. Massimo La Torre.

10:10 Giuliano Amato / TBC / online

10:40 Roger Brownsword / Law’s Imperfect Governance: Problems, Challenges, and Prospects

11:10 Coffee break

11:30 Gerald Postema / AI in Law or AI in the Place of Law?

12:00 Herlinde Pauer-Studer / The Resilience of Law

12:30 Discussion

13:30 Coffee break


Second Session: Rules and Algorithms. Moderator: Indrek Grauberg.

14:30 Frederick Schauer / Rules, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence as Facilitating and Not Impeding the Rule of Law

15:00 José Ignacio Solar Cayón / Artificial intelligence-assisted judicial decisions in Spanish legislation

15:30 Coffee break

15:50 Luisa Torchia / Algorithmic legality and automated administrative decision / online

16:20 Lehte Roots / TBC

16:50 Discussion


Friday, 4th October

Third Session: Rights, Democracy, and Machines.


10:00 Francisco J. Ansuátegui Roig / Technology and new normativities

10:30 Mart Susi / Non-coherence theory of digital human rights

11:00 Coffee break

11:20 Leif Kalev / Digitalization and democracy

11:50 Marjolein Lanzing / (To be adjusted)

12:20 Discussion

13:30 Coffee break


Fourth Session: Humans as Obsolete Actors?

Chairing: Mart Susi.

14:30 William Lucy / Human Agency in the Face of Technological Management

15:00 Marina Lalatta Costerbosa / In Search of Lost Imagination. Günther Anders’ Concept of homo machina

15:30 Coffee break

15:50 Jaan Aru / TBC

16:20 Marek Tamm / Human, More-Than-Human

16:50 Discussion

17:40 Closing words