UCL Faculty of Laws


The Tyranny of Form: AI, Automation, and Algorithms

04 December 2018, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm


Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws Events


Gideon Schreier Lecture Theatre
UCL Laws, Bentham House
Endsleigh Gardens

Organised by the UCL Centre for Law, Economics & Society and the UCL Institute for Labour Law

Speaker: Professor Hamid R. Ekbia, Indiana University
Chairs: Professor Ioannis Lianos, UCL CLES, and Nicolas Countouris, UCL Institute of Labour Law

About the talk

Artificial Intelligence is back — in new shape and with a vengeance. Abundantly enabled by the marriage between Big Data, automation, and machine learning algorithms, the new AI promises to transform all aspects and arenas of human life — from science, economy, and war to work, romance, and law. Some of these promises are tenable, others practically (and morally) dubious, and still others simply fictitious. To discern among them, we have to keep AI in check, asking not what computers can do, but what we should do in order to make computers work in meaningful ways, how we should change as individuals, groups, and societies, and at what cost. This talk will explore these questions through the examination of a few areas of AI application. The key argument is that these applications can penetrate human affairs to the extent that we let the digital “form” govern our lives. We will discuss some of the ways that law and varieties of legal thought can play a role here.

About the speaker:

Hamid Ekbia is Professor of Informatics, International Studies, and Data Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he also directs the Center for Research on Mediated Interaction. He is interested in the political economy of computing and in how technologies mediate cultural, socio-economic, and geo-political relations of modern societies. His most recent book Heteromation and Other Stories of Computing and Capitalism (MIT Press, 2017) examines computer-mediated modes of value extraction in capitalist economies, and  his earlier book Artificial Dreams: The Quest for Non-Biological Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, 2008) was a critical-technical analysis of Artificial Intelligence. He is the co-author of Reconsidering Access: Individual Travails and Asymmetric Gains (MIT Press, 2019), co-editor of a volume titled Big Data Is Not a Monolith (MIT Press, 2016), an Otto Mønsted Visiting Professor in the Department of Digitalization at Copenhagen Business School, and a Senior Fellow at Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (IFK) in Vienna, Austria.

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