CFP: Critical Approaches to Computational Law

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Critical Approaches to Computational Law
Special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies
Edited by Simon Yuill


There is a long-standing relationship between the development of modern
computing and legal theory and the application of computer systems to
legal practice that can be followed through the modelling of legal
problems in terms of Game Theory, the creation of AI based legal expert
systems, in ideas of cyberspace as a distinct legal realm and the legal
framing of cyber warfare. In recent years several new developments have
raised significant questions as to how law is practised and what
constitutes legal ‘thinking’ in the 21st Century. These include the
delegation of aspects of legal reasoning and process to algorithms in
areas such as automated vehicle and robotic combat devices, automated
contractualism in high-velocity trading and new digital currency
systems, the use of machine learning and large scale data sets (Big
Data) in gathering evidence and identifying behavioural and normative
patterns that may be subject to legal scrutiny, and the use of physical
and agent-based simulation in developing new legal regimes and
frameworks. Whilst there has been substantial critical writing on the
application of law to the use of computing, as in issues such as
copyright and IP, there has been less analysis of how law and computing
may be changed by the integration of legal and computational systems
into one another. What questions do these developments raise and what
critical and theoretical approaches are required to address them?

This special issue of Computational Culture welcomes proposals from
researchers and practitioners within law and computing, legal and
computational cultural studies, and others from across different
disciplines interested in the topic of computational law. Documentation
and analysis of artistic and activist responses and interventions are
also encouraged. We specifically seek articles and projects that focus
on critical, theoretical and methodological questions rather than on
‘black letter’ law or primarily practical evaluations of the
applications of technology and law in this context.

Topics or projects might include:

.    The relations between computing and law as forms of applied
‘logic’, what logic might be and how it is
situated/performed/constructed within each area.

.    How the use of computational systems within law such as machine
learning, agent-based simulation or computational dialectics might
change how law is practised and what legal ‘thought’ might be.

.    How approaches to law such as, but not restricted to, critical law
theory, feminist law theory and critical race theory may be developed
in  analyses of computational cultures and law.

.    How different critical approaches to law, software and computing
may relate to and learn from one another.

.    How automated and algorithmic forms of legal practice relate to
debates on formalist versus hermeneutic approaches to law.

.    The relation between protocols and contracts in regard to issues of
social structure, control and governance.

.    How computational law systems potentially alter the relation
between the law, the state and the citizen.

.    The delegation of legal process onto algorithms, i.e. automated

.    The delegation of legal reasoning to algorithms, i.e. forms of
automated risk assessment or verification, identifying valid targets in
robotic warfare.

.    The algorithm as a form of legal ‘thinking’ or genre of legal writing.

.    What the limits of computational law might be, how do law and
computation fail one another?

750 word abstracts should be emailed to sos01sy (at) by 31st
August 2016.
Any queries can be addressed to Simon Yuill at sos01sy (at)

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board
and the special issue editor. Authors of selected abstracts will be
notified by 30th September 2016 and invited to submit full manuscripts
by 1st March 2017. These manuscripts are subject to full blind peer
review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be
published in May 2017.

Computational Culture is an online open-access peer-reviewed journal of
inter-disciplinary enquiry into the nature of cultural computational
objects, practices, processes and structures.

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