Michael Kirby on technology and the law


James Riley
Editorial Director

Former High Court Justice Michael Kirby and the current director general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Australian Francis Gurry will formalise the creation of the Australian Society for Computers and Law on Tuesday evening at a public online event.

The creation of a new national organisation draws together the decades old state-based societies in NSW and Victoria to apply multi-disciplinary thinking to one of the more contested areas of public policy discussion – the intersection of the technology, the law and society.

From Robodebt to the COVIDSafe app, to autonomous vehicles, autonomous weapons systems, and the collection and mining of private data for commercial use, there is an abundance of areas where the law is playing catch-up and the technology is running ahead.

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Justice Kirby is a founding patron of the state-based societies and will remain a patron of the newly formed Australian Society for Computers and Law. In a keynote address to the virtual forum this evening, he is expected to speak on the law, technology and inclusion.

The long-time head of WIPO Francis Gurry will talk on the need multilateral engagement on issues of technology and the law, underlining that Australia has a lot to say in these areas and considerable recognised expertise.

AUSCL convenor and NSW president Marina Yastreboff said the society’s members included legal and technology professionals, business leaders, government officials, academics and members of the bar and retired members of the judiciary.

It aims to be Australia’s leading interdisciplinary think-thank on issues relating to the law at the intersection of technology and society and provide a “lively forum for debate”. It is committed to providing balanced, informed and transparent advocacy, on issues of critical importance, as well as promote the education of its members and the wider community.

“This is not just about lawyers who have been thinking about technology. This is cross-disciplinary, bringing together different professionals,” Ms Yastreboff said.

“We have an advocacy agenda, to look at reform where it is needed. We want fearless debate, but when we do advocate it is a balanced, learned view on an issue,” she said. “If we can’t reach that view, we will not be advocating on that issue.”

“We want to be transparent in all that we do, and to represent a collection of voices.”

Other speakers at the virtual event include leading human rights advocate Julian Burnside, the first president and founder of the Victorian Society for Computers and Law, and Professor Graham Greenleaf, the first president and founder of the society in NSW. Prof Greenleaf is the Founding co- of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) and associated international projects (particularly AsianLII, CommonLII and WorldLII).

“Our members engage on a broad spectrum of issues, within an ever-accelerating world – from artificial intelligence and digital ethics to formulating ‘in design’ principles for promoting justice and accessibility,” Ms Yastreboff said,

“We are not alone in addressing these issues, and bring together a growing network of independent critical thinkers across professions and across the globe to engage in debate, education and advocacy.”

You can reserve your ticket to the online event here at zero cost. The Society is also offering complimentary membership for the remainder of 2020. Details through the Eventbrite page.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email or Signal.

1 Comment
  1. Rachel 9 months ago
    Reply

    That event is tonight (Tuesday 14th).

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