Code, Law, and Language - COLLAGE

COLLAGE is led by Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Jacob Livingston Slosser and is funded by the Carlsberg Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in Denmark. It will run from February 1st, 2019 to January 31st, 2021.

Some technological advancements compel society to reassess if their legal regulations are sufficiently able to address the challenges those technologies bring with them. More often than not, the answers to the legal questions these technologies pose are shaped by how they are framed linguistically. The aim of COde, Law, and LanguAGe (COLLAGE) is to investigate how this framing affects legal responses to new technology. Specifically, it will address two technologies that have the potential to stress the legal system: genetic modification and algorithmic decision making. COLLAGE will explore how a change in the language which is used to describe these new technologies, can affect a change in judgment.

The project will consist of linguistic experiments to create a measurement of the effect(s) of framing on the use of analogical reasoning and the use of precedent in legal decision making. It will then use this measurement to generalise the experimental results by testing the findings over a full corpus of case law.

Scientifically, this project will contribute to the growing field of computational legal studies as well as the field of law and language with its results assessing the phenomenon of the framing of facts and precedent in a legal context. Societally, COLLAGE will add an invaluable tool for law makers and judges to critically assess how new technology should be addressed legally, and hence whether or not existing legal regulation is sufficient for addressing any challenges that such technology might give rise to. Ultimately, this will contribute to better legal regulation and legal education.

COLLAGE’s overarching aim is to make the language of the law more accessible. This will allow those without traditional access to the law more able to fight for social justice and their own interests in a more effective manner.

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