Digitisation and automation is seen to be increasingly embedded in the societal sphere and infrastructure, a process largely enabled and facilitated by technological advances in the fields of ICT and informatics in general.
The resulting catch-up shift in the existing legal and regulatory landscape has posed a need for establishing a fair balance between the creation of a level playing field for different actors and stakeholders. Such is resonated in the public and private sectors in favour of innovation and digital transformation, against the need for a clear pattern of legal and regulatory standards that would safeguard the rights and interests of individuals and communities within the well-established values of economic and democratic diversity and equality.
Based on the flux of novel business, governance and economic models being defined and put in practice underscoring the prevalence of the data-driven economy, a collaborative discourse between the disciplines of law and informatics is required allowing for a better understanding of the associated implications and repercussions, affecting individuals in particular.
Specific attention is given to distributed and peer to peer network infrastructures with varying levels of decentralisation in terms of governance, communication and participation protocols. Algorithmic protocols often play a pivotal role in ways in which these infrastructures function and operate. Algorithms as the core element of Artificial Intelligence (AI) entailing machine learning have seen a rapid evolution, from automated sets of instructions with mathematical logic -based execution triggers to rule-based expert systems and neural networks. The constituent algorithms of AI are fed with structured and unstructured data as input in order to complete a given task, in principle without a need for a software programme. Here the level and scope of human intervention would be dependent upon the complexity of deployed and applied techniques.
In this context, a number of points could be summarised for reflection:
- technical ‘distributed by design’ feature of network infrastructures and legal uncertainties as to jurisdictional boundaries;
- attribution of liability in distributed ledger technology (DLT) -based network infrastructures in the absence of a clear definition of roles and responsibilities among actors and stakeholders;
- digitisation of the state and potential consequences on fundamental rights of individuals;
- growing dominance of corporate entities in big data analytics and implications on the concepts of individual consent and control;
- data inaccuracy and bias in automated decision making processes and possible technical tools for detection and mitigation thereof;
- data ownership and commercialisation of personal data, personal data as a contractual consideration;
- community –driven inclusive economic models based on peer to peer, interoperable, scalable and disintermediated network infrastructures;
- identity management systems and individuals’ control over all matters related to collection, processing and storage of personal data;
- regulatory thresholds of privacy by design and privacy by default and their effective application;
- hardware design models, functioning independently from incumbent operating systems, allowing for security by design and by default.
In alphabetical order:
- Balázs Bodó, Blockchain & Society Policy Research Lab, University of Amsterdam
- Philipp Degens, Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies, Futures of Sustainability, University of Hamburg
- Ronan Fahy, IViR, University of Amsterdam
- Christian Gelleri, Dept. of Public and Int. Economic Law, Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg
- Sebastian Göndör, Dept. of Telecom. Systems, Service-centric Networking, Technical University of Berlin
- Malte Christian Gruber, Lucernaiuris, University of Lucerne
- Golnaz Jafari, SOCAI, Lucernaiuris, University of Lucerne
- Christian Janiesch, Information Management, Dept. of Business Man. and Economics, Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg
- Stefan Larsson, Dept. of Technology and Society, LTH Lund University
- David Roth-Isigkeit, SOCAI, Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg
- Ronny Thomale, CT.QMAT, Dept. of Theoretical Physics, Julius-Maximilians University of Würzburg
- Florent Thouvenin, ITSL, University of Zurich
- Isabel Valera, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Dept. of Computer Science and Mathematics, Saarland University
- Antonio Vetrò, Nexa Centre for Internet & Society, Polytechnic University of Turin
- Richard Werner, Finance and Banking Research Centre, De Montfort University of Leicester
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