Law in a world powered by algorithms

Release date: 2019.12.27



Rob van den Hoven van Genderen speaks at Kyushu University's Annual Law Symposium.

Algorithms—the logic and formulas that computers use to process and analyze data—are increasingly playing a role in how we make decisions, what content we see online, and how we interact with each other, but how to treat these often “black boxes” from a legal standpoint is far from clear.

To help legal understanding catchup with the rapid proliferation of the use of algorithms, Kyushu University’s International Programs in Law hosted 55 speakers with backgrounds in technology, economics, sociology, and ethics from 28 different countries for the 12th edition of Kyushu University's Annual Law Symposium from November 21 to 23.

More than 120 people from 35 countries gathered on Ito Campus for the three-day event under the title "Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Algorithms: Regulation, Governance, Markets" to discuss how businesses, regulators, and ordinary people can best respond to this fast-changing digital reality. On the last day, a special session on algorithms, collusion, and competition law was held.

Steven Van Uytsel (front)

Steven Van Uytsel, associate professor of the Faculty of Law, was principal organizer of this year’s symposium, which focused on an area that he began researching from 2018 in light of the increasing influence that technological developments were having on his work in competition and consumer law.

“Through excellent presentations and vivid discussions, the symposium has revealed that there is a rich discussion on how law should deal with the ever-increasing role of algorithms in society,” said Van Uytsel.

“However, it is also clear that the discussion is often still embryonic due to the lack of full understanding of the technological developments and the problems they create.”

The conference was sponsored by Progress 100, which aims to build and strengthen international research partnerships in areas that Kyushu University has displayed excellence by bringing top researchers to Fukuoka.

Van Uytsel expresses his hope that this kind of interdisciplinary symposium was the first in a series to follow.

“More than ever is there a need to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines to generate a better understanding of the complexities in daily life, and I expect that Kyushu University will continue being a key player in making that happen,” he commented.

Erik Vermeulen 

Karni Chagal-Keferkorn


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