Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Laws of Technology and the Technologies of Law Event 2011

The Laws of Technology and the Technologies of Law Event 2011


Lawyers and legal institutions regularly face technological change. The public record of the Twentieth and this century is populated by numerous crisis events that surround emerging technology where law was called forth to channel, to regulate, or prohibit certain technologies and technological mediated activities. This rich history coupled with the ever present concern of technological change would suggest that there is a detailed scholarly reflection on the relationship between law and technology. However, this is not necessarily the case. Most scholarship on law and technology is reactive to concerns surrounding a specific technology or technological mediated activity. This orthodox scholarship remains within a reasonably narrow frame of reference concerned with securing a desirable future through law as an instrument of public policy. In this the lawyer-scholar’s task is primarily descriptive; it involves the identification of the ‘issues’, ‘uncertainties’ and the ‘gaps’ to be addressed by policy-makers and legislators. This symposium aims to challenge this orthodoxy at three key points.

The first challenge can be through a taking seriously of the past of a law’s engagement with technology. Instead of issue specific piecemeal engagements that look narrowly to the future, it is hoped through archival, historical and cultural sources to gleam a more sophisticated account of the social, political, economic and cultural factors that gave form to concrete law and technology moments.

The second challenge can be through a taking seriously of the present of law’s engagement with technology. Law faces profound technological change. However, instead of falling back on the narrow nomology of the orthodox scholarship, what is hoped for is a diverse array of methods and resources – social scientific, cultural and literary studies for example – to expose, critique and understand the current political-legal engagements with technological change.

The third challenge can be through a taking seriously of the future of law’s engagement with technology. The predominant theory of law in the orthodox scholarship is instrumental and sovereign. At a fundamental level law is conceived as a process, a machine that can be deployed. And significantly it is a process that can claim sovereignty over the future. Ironically the law called forth by technology can be characterised as technological. Through jurisprudential, philosophic, semiotic, psychoanalytic and other theoretically informed discourses it is hoped to question and think these deep connections between law and technology.


Kieran Tranter, Deputy-Director Socio-legal Research Centre and Managing Editor Griffith Law Review.


The focus is a one day workshop at Griffith Law School, Griffith University Gold Coast Campus to be held on 3 May 2011.

While it is hoped that presenters can present in person it is planned that presenters will be able to contribute through Skype and video-linking technologies. The workshop will be run afternoon-evening to allow northern hemisphere presenters to be involved.

There will be no cost for presenters to attend the workshop.


A selection of the papers presented at the workshop will be refereed and edited for appearance as a symposium in the Griffith Law Review (2011) 20(2).

An edited volume comprising all the presented papers with a well regarded law publisher is planned.


Proposals, including a title and 300-word abstract are due 28 January 2011. Send proposals to glr@griffith.edu.au

Confirmed Participants

Lyria Bennett Moses, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, “Agents of Change.”

Gaia Bernstein, Seton Hall Law, Seton Hall University, “When is Timing Important in the Regulation of New Technologies?”

Arthur Cockfield, Faculty of Law, Queens University, “From Cyberlaw to Law and Technology.”

Jennifer Chandler, Faculty of Law, University of Ottowa, “Technological Justice: Identification and Distribution of the Benefits and Harms of Cognitive Enhancements and Therapies.”

Charles Lawson, Griffith Law School, “Deploying Law to Bound Nature.”

Joseph Pugliese, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, "Drone Technologies and the Inexecution of Law."

Kieran Tranter, Griffith Law School, “Gaming the Speculative Jurisdiction in Law and Technology.”


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