The contributions in this issue of the European Journal of Legal Studies tackle various developments which are currently shaping our future and raise important questions, varying from what technological advances mean for our understanding of “law”, to how legal tools are devised in practice to deal with the challenges posed by new advances.
The aim of my paper is to envisage how the role of law will be re-designed in relation to the evolution of information and communication technologies (ICT). The hypothesis proposed in this paper is that law will keep having an autonomous and central epistemologicalrole in representing reality, namely, in providing a mediation which will enable us to bridge the physical and the virtual realms, the empirical convergence of which does not account by itself for the construction of a common epistemological ground.
In many ways it is futile to think about the future. There are far too many variables involved and it is almost impossible to make accurate predictions. But, in the arena of information and communications technologies (ICT), the sheer pace of technological change forces us to confront it. We have to factor in the future when we make investment, regulatory, and other decisions about ICT
Ever since Cain and Abel, crime is a “known known” to human kind. Modern criminal codes have dealt quite well with crime within territorial boundaries and even, sometimes, outside those boundaries, by applying themselves to crimes committed by nationals abroad. Criminal law has then been almost purely domestic, with external threats to the public order of States being dealt with by the military.
Nowadays the Internet has become a digital universe accessible within the comfort of one’s household. Although it was originally created as a means of communication in the scientific community,  it has developed into an extraordinary diffused medium used in homes, offices, schools, businesses and public administrations.
Ontologically, ‘network neutrality’ is a political and not a legal term. It has been introduced in the legal literature by US antitrust scholars and is by now well established and consensually used. It constitutes the premise of original destiny of the telecommunications infrastructure as a conduit of all relevant data with (virtually) no interference of incumbent into this process. Because of its political roots, it does not convey the literal meaning of neutrality. Most actors on both sides of the debate agree that not every data has to be transmitted without any prioritisation. For instance, the succession of e-mail, banking and security services is always prioritised over other internet applications.
The legal discipline is an unusually information-rich one. Contrary to other disciplines, there is not only an enormous mass of texts about the law, but also the law itself is textual in nature. Consequently, being able to automatically retrieve texts from large document collections was one of the first applications of computer science in the field of law.
“While legal problem solving will not be eliminated in tomorrow’s legal paradigm, it will nonetheless diminish markedly in significance. The emphasis will shift towards legal risk management supported by proactive facilities, which will be available in the form of legal information services and procedures. As citizens learn to seek legal guidance more regularly and far earlier than in the past, many potential legal difficulties will be dissolved before needing to be resolved. Where legal problems of today are often symptomatic of delayed legal input, earlier consultation should result in users understanding and identifying their risks and controlling them before any questions of escalation.”
The field of artificial intelligence, broadly defined as the study and practice of designing intelligent agents, is at least six decades into its existence as a formal discipline. Sometimes called “computational” or “synthetic” intelligence, AI borrows from and informs a wide variety of subjects, including philosophy, psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, statistics, economics, and law. Techniques of AI underpin all manner of industrial and consumer applications¾from the complex neural nets used in data mining, down to the ‘fuzzy logic’ used by commercial washers and driers.
Since early 1970s the US scholars have been ‘playing’ with the idea to introduce property rights in personal data. Next to acknowledging already existing phenomenon of commodification of personal data, propertisation would potentially offer a solution to the data protection problem resulting from the Information Revolution.
Knowledge has always represented a sort of human unrealizable dream and omniscience, that means the complete and unlimited knowledge, is considered by most of the cultures as a divine characteristic. To know means to have the power: in human history – and in recent philosophical reflections – it is a full stop!
The present paper deals with an oft-raised argument against the admissibility of enhancing an embryo’s nature through genetic engineering (hereafter: genetic enhancement), namely, the argument from autonomy. The argument asserts that genetic enhancement is not admissible because it violates human autonomy (i.e., the autonomy of a person who is to grow up from the embryo subjected to genetic engineering).
The subject of this paper – “the future of P2P systems and their impact on contemporary legal networks” – requires three preliminary elucidations. First, it does not rely on any prophetic powers or divinatory commitments; rather, the aim is to draw attention to some major issues concerning today’s P2P systems. By highlighting these problems, the idea is to specify possible developments and changes induced by technology.