Van den Hoven presents on normativity and international computational law at Aberdeen University (23 June 2022)

International legal scholarship has over recent years started to pay much closer attention to the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the international legal order. However, to date, the focus has primarily been on AI as a topic of regulation by international law. Comparatively speaking, there has been less discussion about the use of AI in the (law-making) processes and institutions of international law (referred to as ‘international computational law’).

However, it is not only necessary to tend to the branches of international law and their content, but we pay closer attention to the roots of international law when it comes to the use of AI in its law-making processes. This exercise requires that we look at the underlying assumptions of the integration of data-driven tools and the implications of this development for law’s normative structure. When discussing these developments, it is thus important to note that there are crucial differences between technological normativity on the one hand and the normativity of (international) law on the other.

On 23 June, van den Hoven held a presentation at the International Law and Technological Progress conference (23-24 June, University of Aberdeen) to raise the question of what the implications will be if these two kinds of normativity collide in the context of international law-making. Will it be a smooth and fortuitous alignment or a surreptitious undermining of accepted legal practices if these different forms of normativity meet, or something in between? She calls for more research to be done to ensure that ‘international computational law’ adheres to a conception of ‘international legal protection by design’.