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Academics explore future of digital law


2022-04-15 01:24

Wei Siyu
Chinese Social Sciences net

Scholars discussed the future of digital law at a forum hosted by the Renmin University of China (RUC) Law School in Beijing on March 31.

Traditional law challenged

Wang Xixin, a professor from Peking University Law School, believes that in the digital age, the relationship between data-driven governance and traditional rule of law should be observed from two dimensions.

The first is digital technology has empowered the rule of law. This means that digital technology has provided new technology support for all aspects of traditional rule of law to improve the operating efficiency of its system.

The second dimension examines challenges to the traditional rule of law caused by the use of technology, Wang continued. The legal community should consider whether the new technology constitutes a subversive iteration of the rule of law system. However, this transformation is not about technology replacing or governing the rule of law, but rather, how traditional legal values adapt and domesticate technology in the new technology era. In this sense, digital law is an emerging field.

Interdisciplinary research

Huang Wenyi, dean of the RUC Law School, said that digital law, as a highly integrated discipline, requires the joint efforts of scholars from various disciplines, such as jurisprudence, constitutional law, civil law, criminal law, procedural law, and international law to achieve organic integration of digital rule of law research in multiple subject areas.

Digital law is an interdisciplinary subject, which should be jointly constructed and shared by legal studies with other disciplines to realize integrated research in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, on digital governance and institutional governance, Huang continued.

In addition, digital law is also a practical and borderless global discipline serving digital governance. It requires scholars from all over the world to discuss and communicate, and jointly build a theoretical system for exploring knowledge and practice, Huang said.

At present, there are many interdisciplinary and secondary disciplines in digital governance and law, such as internet law, information law, artificial intelligence law, and computational law. Ma Changshan, a professor from the Law School of East China University of Political Science and Law, believes that these disciplines can be collectively referred to as digital law.

Addressing new challenges

Shen Weixing, dean of the School of Law at Tsinghua University, said that in our modern information society, all departments of traditional law are driven by necessity and possibility to move towards digitization. Only in this way can the emerging legal discipline gain a foothold. At the same time, the practice of digital law comes from industry, so it is necessary to fully understand and respect the demands of industry.

Digital empowerment may contain technical risks, which is an important issue that demands attention in the construction of digital law disciplines.

Cai Lidong, vice president of Jilin University, noted that at the level of social governance, speaking with data does not mean that big data analysis can be used to directly make decisions. As such, high-tech applications must not shake human beings’ dominant position, nor should it make decisions on behalf of human beings.

“In particular, in the face of rule conflicts, social risks, and ethical challenges that may be brought about by the empowerment of digital technology, digital law should adhere to the unity of digital technology innovation and prevention of ethical risks, and strengthen ethical research on digital governance,” Cai said.

Despite numerous extant research results on digital governance, there has been a dearth of profound and original research, said Zhang Wenxian, a professor from the Jilin University School of Law. In the future, digital law should be devoted to the research of digital law, digital rule of law, and digital jurisprudence.

In digital law research and education, Zhang said that it is necessary to strengthen systematic thinking, optimize dialectical thinking, and establish global thinking. He called for “standing on the historical tide of economic and social development, and promoting good law and good governance in the digital field.”




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