Critical Approaches to Computational Law

Special issue of Computational Culture, a Journal of Software Studies


There is a long-standing relationship between the development of modern computing and legal theory and the application of computer systems to legal practice that can be followed through the modelling of legal problems in terms of Game Theory, the creation of AI based legal expert systems, in ideas of cyberspace as a distinct legal realm and the legal framing of cyber warfare. In recent years several new developments have raised significant questions as to how law is practised and what constitutes legal ‘thinking’ in the 21st Century. These include the delegation of aspects of legal reasoning and process to algorithms in areas such as automated vehicle and robotic combat devices, automated contractualism in high-velocity trading and new digital currency systems, the use of machine learning and large scale data sets (Big Data) in gathering evidence and identifying behavioural and normative patterns that may be subject to legal scrutiny, and the use of physical and agent-based simulation in developing new legal regimes and frameworks. Whilst there has been substantial critical writing on the application of law to the use of computing, as in issues such as copyright and IP, there has been less analysis of how law and computing may be changed by the integration of legal and computational systems into one another. What questions do these developments raise and what critical and theoretical approaches are required to address them?

This special issue of Computational Culture welcomes proposals from researchers and practitioners within law and computing, legal and computational cultural studies, and others from across different disciplines interested in the topic of computational law. Documentation and analysis of artistic and activist responses and interventions are also encouraged. We specifically seek articles and projects that focus on critical, theoretical and methodological questions rather than on ‘black letter’ law or primarily practical evaluations of the applications of technology and law in this context.

750 word abstracts should be emailed to by 31st August 2016. Any queries can be addressed to Simon Yuill at

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Computational Culture Editorial Board and the special issue editor. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by 30th September 2016 and invited to submit full manuscripts by 1st March 2017. These manuscripts are subject to full blind peer review according to Computational Culture’s policies. The issue will be published in May 2017.


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