IE Law School launches the Lawtomation JMCoE to dive deeper into the impact of automation and law

Director Francisco de Elizalde led the launch event with a lively discussion on technology, automation and its correlation with EU Law. 

IE Law School has launched the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for Law and Automation (Lawtomation JMCoE). Co-financed by the European Commission and under the Erasmus+ program, the Center is focused on the impact of automation and law. It aims to advance research around three central themes, namely E-Justice, Legal Tech and Private Law, the Automated State, and Algorithmic Bosses.

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for Law and Automation was launched on September 29 and 30. Director Francisco de Elizalde kicked off the event with lively first-day panels and discussions that featured various notable speakers, including Salvador Estevan Martínez, director-general of digitalization and AI for the Spanish Government and Cristian Nicolau, head-of-unit for E-Justice at the European Commission.

The welcome session was spirited and full of promise for the future. Estevan Martínez signaled that the Spanish government is committed to promoting “human-centric digital transformation following this European view.” According to him, the government’s goal is to turn Spain into an attractive hub for both investors and top talent so that the country becomes a leader in startup creation.

“There should be a focus on eliminating bureaucracy. Digitalization makes for more efficient processes and from it, we find there are more problems we can tackle.”
Salvador Estevan Martínez

The second day of the launch event featured a fireside chat led by Salvador Carmona, the rector of IE University. In this lively debate, Konstantina Valogianni, assistant professor at IE Business School; Ikhlaq Sidhu, dean of IE School of Science and Technology; and Jeremias Adams-Prassl from Oxford University, explored the intricacies of algorithms and the workplace. It focused on how AI can be either a good thing or a bad thing for labor practices, jobs and workers in general.

“Human agency is important when we think of algorithms. When there is a lack of agency, things could go very badly. If there are completely automated systems and things go badly, that raises legal issues about many things.”
Jeremias Adams-Prassl, University of Oxford

These legal issues are the crux of what the center will explore, an exploration that will revolutionize thinking on the effects of technology on law and labor. Technology and automation have sped up how the private and public sectors do things in the workforce, but labor laws have not been updated to reflect the rapid speed of changes. European Union officials have stated that they have begun those processes and are moving in that direction.

“Where is the actual balance is what the question is. Automation and technology can be good, but can also take away jobs.”
Ikhlaq Sidhu

A variety of topics were covered in discussion sessions throughout the two-day event: AI and Algorithmic Management in the Workplace, Legal Tech and E-Justice, and Democracy, and Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Speakers were drawn from an array of sectors—from industry experts in the Spanish Government to leading sector organizations and European universities—to provide a wide range of perspectives on the role of technology in today’s society.

“Technology is important. It affects power, it affects politics, it affects social rights, it affects security.”
Irene Blázquez-Navarro, IE University Center for the Governance of Change

In the end, they agreed that the future of technology needs to be outlined by the government so that automation does not affect labor. As Ikhlaq Sidhu pointed out, “Where is the actual balance, is the question. Automation and technology can be good, but can also take away jobs.”

Through the Center, IE University students will gain more avenues to get into the law and technology sectors. Networking opportunities will also become more abundant through events like this and more, offering them a unique advantage when joining the workforce and leading to successful careers.

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for Law and Automation will promote research into and the teaching of technology—specifically artificial intelligence and algorithms—and how it relates to law and the EU’s constitutional values, human rights and legal practices in the workplace. The initiative has been lauded by the best and brightest industry experts.

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