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Accepted Paper:

Dura Lex, sed CompLex: the multi-faceted nature of legal complexity. How can physicists help?  
Pierpaolo Vivo

Paper short abstract:

Asked to define 'legal complexity', a prominent legal scholar answered by saying: "I know it when I read it". Can we do better? What are typical features of and possible remedies to the multi-faceted nature of how normed societies work? Complexity science, a modern branch of physics, can help!

Paper long abstract:

In recent years, a growing body of research has underpinned the idea that the interaction of law and society could be interpreted and analysed through the prism of the "complex adaptive system" paradigm. Both experts and laypeople may agree that recent times have witnessed a steady growth in social, political, and economic "complexity" - in turn manifested in "legal complexity" - without necessarily agreeing on an operational definition of complexity, let alone its defining features or possible remedies. A sensible approach is to leverage techniques and tools from statistical physics, complexity science, and computational social science to both characterise and predict the behaviour of various legal institutions, frameworks, and processes - with the ultimate goal of understanding and taming the complexity of the law.

How interactions between individuals are shaped by norms, and what are the emerging ("collective") phenomena in the highly interconnected "legal" landscape - interpreted in the broadest sense - constitute the core questions that I will try to address. From the scientific challenges posed by the use of technology as a tool to tame the complex web of interactions between individuals and norms in the "legal" domain, to the question of how complex network theory applies to items of legislation, the spectrum of real-life issues around how normed societies work is very broad and of paramount interest. My talk will hopefully shed some light on the interplay between statistical physics, computational social science, politics and legal studies that have traditionally followed rather separate trajectories.

Panel P50a
Is that AI judging us? Is that OK? A multi-disciplinary panel unpicks the future impact of AI on law and human justice.
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -