Digital Self-Determination: AI, Law and Personhood

17 Jan 2022 to 28 Jan 2022

The process of dispossession, alienation and anxiety exacerbated by living in a digital world raises questions about what is the 'personal' for which liberty is offered or denied, and to whom dignity is accorded or excluded. The course will introduce students to the challenges for 'personhood' presented by artificial intelligence and big data. The essential relationships between human personality and legal personality will be identified. Then the course transits into a variety of digital spaces in which this personhood is negotiated and law as a 'social fact' is challenged. During this portion of the course students will be invited to create and research their own 'use cases' from a menu provided employing methodologies recognised as significant within a digital space. From the perspective of each use case the class will then explore digital self-determination and personhood against conventional legal paradigms such as human rights, constitutional liberties, ethical principles, rule of law, and legal/regulatory paradigms such as personal data protection regimes. The aim of the course is to employ digital self-determination as an analytical device for critically evaluating law's relevance as a force for social order in digital societies and the information economy. Ethnomethodology is the driving theoretical paradigm for exploring important contemporary questions such as the masking function of 'rule of law' and the connection between law and property in the context of the digitising of personality and the commodification of data.