The law in computation: What machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data mean for law and society scholarship.
Abstract: Computational systems, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics, are not only inescapable parts of social life but are also reshaping the contours of law and legal practice. We propose turning more law and social science (LSS) attention to new technological developments through the study of “law in computation,” that is, computational systems’ integration with regulatory and administrative procedures, the sociotechnical infrastructures that support them, and their impact on how individuals and populations are interpellated through the law. We present a range of cases in three areas of inquiry - algorithmic governance, jurisdiction and agency - on issues such as immigration enforcement, data sovereignty, algorithmic warfare, biometric identity regimes, and gig economies, for which examining law in computation illuminates how new technological systems’ integration with legal processes pushes the distinction between “law on the books” and “law in action” into new domains. We then propose future directions and methods for research. As computational systems become ever more sophisticated, understanding the law in computation is critical not only for LSS scholarship, but also for everyday civics. (DoCarmo T, Rea S, Conaway E, Emery J, Raval N. Law & Policy. 2021;1–30)