Law and Emerging Technologies Research Group
In this Section:
This new and innovative initiative brings legal scholars together with academics and other experts working in science and engineering, the social sciences and the humanities to investigate the interconnections between law, commerce, innovation, security and ethics as these relate to new and emerging technologies.
What are emerging technologies? Such technologies include – but are not limited to – medical, agricultural and industrial biotechnology including synthetic biology, nanotechnology, information and communications technology, data processing technologies, 3D printing, robotics, new materials, alternative energy including biofuels, transport, and geoengineering. Any list is open and provisional; such is the emergent and disruptive nature of much of the technological change of recent years.
The interaction of law with technology is rapidly becoming a significant (and controversial) topic, with new technologies appearing as never before, often preceding a full assessment of their impacts on society and the biosphere. Separately, these transformative technologies present major regulatory challenges for the law and for society. However, these technologies are also evolving together by means of an ever-increasing convergence. This is largely in the form of a digitalisation phenomenon spreading from ICT into other fields, especially biology. This implies the possibility of applying simpler, more generalised legal and regulatory systems. But if such systems are maladaptive they will soon become obsolete and form a barrier to progress.
History shows us that science and technology, law, regulation, and business organisation co-evolve with each one influencing, and often helping to shape, each of the others. This is not only a rich yet largely unexplored context for doing scholarly research; such work can also help us to impact on policy to improve our ability to manage rapid and sometimes unpredictable technological transformations in the most social-welfare enhancing directions.
We will undertake critical analysis of new technologies from the legal perspective, and rigorous examination of legally sensitive areas including intellectual property and marketing rights, product approval regulation, privacy, data protection and human rights. At the same time, the limits of the law will become clear when ‘knee-jerk’ regulation is not the right option, and when the law may not be able to provide an appropriate degree of protection for new technologies. Since new technologies will inevitably come up against international legal regimes, the international context is another key theme.
Given that the promotion of creative new technologies may be, but is not always, convergent with the public interest, the question arises of whether and how we balance the promotion of innovation with societal advancement. This leads to a series of more specific policy questions:
- How can we influence the development and use of new technologies to maximise social welfare while mitigating any risk to human health and the biosphere?
- Is it realistic to seek to re-design law and regulation for the purpose of accommodating technologies as they are emerging?
- Or should the default position be to apply existing regimes until they are demonstrably obsolete?
- More generally: Can law and regulation help to shape the future for the benefit of future generations and the planet? And if so, how might this aspiration best be pursued?
The University of Leeds has world-class research strengths in the physical and life sciences, and the social science and humanities, including business and law. It is therefore an ideal institution to host such a Research Group. There are academic centres in the world that investigate issues of emerging technologies. However, the particular mix of expertise we have available to us in our department and elsewhere in the university makes it something that could only come from the University of Leeds. We are not an “ivory tower” grouping of scholars disengaged from the real world. The future is being shaped now and we need to contribute to this process by engaging in debates taking place around the world at all levels.
Academic Members (School of Law)
- Sundeep Aulakh, Professional Services Hub
- Gordon Andrews, Faculty of Engineering
- Eric Atwell, School of Computing
- Dominic Berry, Centre for History and Philosophy of Science
- Hugh Dyer, School of Politics and International Studies
- Kingsley Edney, School of Politics and International Studies
- Andrew Evans, School of Geography
- Alison Johnson, School of English
- Effie Kesidou, Leeds University Business School
- Kate Langton, Pharmaceutical and Biopharmaceutical Innovation Hub
- Hu Li, Energy Research Institute
- Valentina Lichtner, School of Healthcare
- Jon Lovett, School of Geography
- Alison McKay, Leeds University Business School
- Neil Morris, School of Education
- Clare O’Reilly, graduate student and former environmental lawyer, Centre for History & Philosophy of Science
- Krsto Pandza, Leeds University Business School
- Frederique Ponchel, Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine
- Darren Shickle, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
- James Stark, School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
- Calvin Taylor, School of Performance and Cultural Industries
- Peter Taylor (Centre for Integrated Energy Research)
- Paul Upham, Centre for Integrated Energy Research and Sustainability Research Institute
- Gabrielle White, Philosophy (retired)
- Ceri Williams, Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering
17 March 2016, 17:00 - 18:00 | Seminar | G.32, The Liberty Building |
Dr Daithi Mac Sithigh will argue that distinctions between mediums are more culturally and economically significant than often understood in a so-called age of convergence.
8 March 2016, 17:00 - 18:00 | Seminar | G.32, Liberty Building |
This seminar will examine the broader question of what to do about the problem of dual-use research, which gained recent notoriety after the US Department of Health and Human Services recommended changes were made to two academic papers on the H5N1 virus.
9 February 2016, 14:00 - 15:00 | Lecture | LG.06, Liberty Building |
The LET annual lecture 2016 will be presented by Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, who will be discussing the relationship between Big Data and the EU Privacy Regulation.
7 May 2015, 5pm - 6pm | Seminar |
As human innovation advances at breakneck speed this seminar considers the opportunities and dangers presented by the unchecked exponential evolution of these emerging technologies.
9 March 2015, 17:30 - 18:30 | Seminar | Centre for Business Law and Practice
This seminar will look at the recent increase in fracking, focusing on the legal and regulatory provisions in the United States.
13 November 2014, 17:30 - 19:00 | Seminar | G.33 Liberty Building, School of Law |
This seminar explores the extent to which judicial perceptions of the media inform and affect judicial decision-making on the important issues of journalists’ disclosure of their sources.
2 July 2014 — 3 July 2014 | Conference |