Below is a re-recording of a talk given by Laurence at Gikii 2019 entitled ‘Legal Tech, or Story of Your [Legal] Life’. Taking inspiration from the film Arrival and Ted Chiang’s novella Story of Your Life on which it is based, the talk considers legal prediction and the notion of past language containing, or predetermining, future knowledge. (If you haven’t seen the film or read the story you might wish to skip to 1:25 to avoid spoilers – but they are both very highly recommended in any case.)

If the is of past legal text becomes the ought of future legal text, there is a risk of ignoring relevant authorities or future social changes in a seductively efficient race to the bottom. The sequential flexibility of the law, adapting and responding to the society it serves, might therefore reach an inflection point, beyond which it starts to become ‘fixed’: legal outcomes become increasingly predetermined, and the law’s ‘consciousness’, embodied in legal text, becomes ‘simultaneous’, its development increasingly pre-ordained in ways incompatible with a democratic society.

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