Summer term 2018

LTS LunchTimeSeries on Law, Technology and Society enters into the Summer Term 2018!

For the fifth consecutive semester, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Iris Eisenberger, M.Sc. (LSE), Institute of Law at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Konrad Lachmayer, Sigmund Freud University, Vienna, are organising the Lunch Time Series on Law, Technology and Society (LTS).

In the summer term 2018, the series will start with a lecture given by Prof. Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University, on “Distributed Selves: Technology and Rights in the Digital Age” on 25 April 2018. You can find the announcement here.

On 9 May 2018, Dr. Nicolas Lampach, Centre for Legal Theory and Empirical Jurisprudence, KU Leuven, will give a lecture on “Law meets Data Science: Findings from the EUTHORITY Project”. You can find the announcement here.

As our third guest in this semester, we will welcome Prof. Hermann Winner, TU Darmstadt, on 5 June 2018. He will talk about "Autonomous Cars - a technical introduction". You can find the announcement here.

In the fourth lecture on 15 June 2018, Prof. Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, University of Bergen, will talk about “The Robot Judge: Law, Technology and Historical Patterns of Change”. You can find the announcement here.

Prof. Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Sorbonne Université, will give the last lecture of the semester on 28 June 2018. She will present on “Peer-to-Peer Law and the Commons”. You can find the announcement here.

After each lecture, there will be an opportunity for public discussion. Based on the Anglo-American model of the Lunch Time Series, the Institute of Law will provide catering. The event is open to all and participation is free of charge.

Please register in advance at: law(at)

You can find the complete programm of the semester here.

Distributed Selves: Technology and Rights in the Digital Age

25 April 2018


On 25 April 2018, the LunchTimeSeries on Law, Technology, and Society (LTS) began its fifth consecutive semester. The auditorium was filled to capacity and extra chairs were brought in to accommodate the large turnout. Professor Iris Eisenberger, Institute of Law, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, introduced the first LTS guest lecturer of summer term 2018: Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

In her lecture “Distributed Selves: Technology and Rights in the Digital Age”, Jasanoff advocated for a legal approach to protecting human values in a pervasively digitalised world.

One can address the question of how to protect human values in the digital age from different perspectives: either by focusing on the emerging technologies and their disruptive potential, or by focusing on what human values we would like to preserve.

If we take the latter perspective, as Jasanoff did in her lecture, we put human beings rather than machines at the centre of our attention. This allows us to take a closer look at our different selves: the self of observable individual characteristics (“phenotypic self”), the self of genetic and genomic information (“biological self”), and the self that consists of the digital traces we leave behind (“digital self”). In contrast to our phenotypic selves, our biological and digital selves are distributed, thus raising complex questions for the fate of human values in a digitalised world.

Jasanoff illustrated the dynamic nature of these questions with judgments of the United States Supreme Court concerning the Fourth Amendment to the US-Constitution: The Fourth Amendment was originally intended to protect citizens from warrantless searches in their homes. However, in the past fifty years the United States Supreme Court has faced the questions whether wiretapping a public phonebooth (Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 1967), searching through rubbish bags left on the street (California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35, 1988), or accessing cell phones (Riley v. California, 573 U.S. ___ 2014) falls within the scope of the Fourth Amendment. The technological change over time has required the US Supreme Court to re-think the definitions of private space and public space. Although its interpretation has changed in the face of technological development, the Fourth Amendment has been continuously protecting the embedded human value.

To re-integrate the human values into our distributed selves, different artefacts of society such as markets, regulations, ethics, and the law come to mind. Jasanoff argued that the market could not grasp the complex issues of distributed selves due to the limited number of values it considers. Product-focused and reactive regulation, in turn, is embedded in existing social values. Therefore, it is an inadequate tool to protect such values. Ethics tend to privatise questions of value by turning public values into expertise, thus pulling them away from societal discourse prematurely.

The law, on the contrary, offers a basis to declare what human values we consider worth preserving. While these commitments might be reinterpreted over time, the core values, which are collectively enshrined in them, remain.

The right to be forgotten is, albeit controversial, an example for legal re-integration of such foundational values into our distributed selves in a digitalised world; a world that has the technological means to record our digital traces unforgivingly and permanently. In this light, the right to be forgotten is an attempt to prioritise what is societally desirable over what is technologically possible. It shows that it is the law that offers an appropriate place for such activism and construction of imaginaries.

The audience discussion addressed, among other aspects, the democratization of surveillance, the perception of General Data Protection Regulation in the US, and the developments of the different selves. Jasanoff wove these statements and questions together into her plea for the law as suitable means of re-integration: The law allows us to discuss and democratically decide on emergent values of society, it allows us to take account of temporal and socio-cultural dependencies and, most importantly, it offers a place to raise questions that are not being asked.

Thomas Buocz, April 2018


You can find the report in PDF-format here.

Law meets Data Science: Findings from the EUTHORITY Project

9 May 2018


The "LunchTimeSeries on Law, Technology and Society" (LTS) continued on Europe Day, 9 May 2018, with a topic which could not have been more suitable for that date: Dr. Nicolas Lampach lectured on "Law Meets Data Science: Findings from the EUTHORITY Project". The EUTHORITY Project is an interdisciplinary research project which combines legal analysis with empirical methods. Due to its interdisciplinary dimension, Lampach’s presentation was a great enrichment for the auditorium at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

Lampach started his lecture by explaining the importance of the preliminary rulings of the European Court of Justice. As a fundamental mechanism, they ensure the uniform application of EU law. Lampach emphasised that domestic courts show major disparities in their referral behaviour. Those differences exist due to various factors such as, for instance, economic, political and legal variables. The EUTHORITY project aims to identify those factors by collecting and analysing data in order to determine the position of domestic courts towards EU Law.

What data do the project collect? They include data on economic activity, political systems, legal traditions or judicial organisations, for instance. The project covers regional as well as national aspects. Currently, the EUTHORITY project has 40 data variables and is planning to expand them to up to 80 or 85.

Lampach illustrated that the number of submitted references to the European Court of Justice differs among the member states. He took Germany and France as an example to show that even the founding states of the European Union show very different referral behaviour. Whereas Germany sends a high number of references, France appears to be more reluctant to do so. Moreover, there are not only differences among the member states, but also on a regional level within a state. To stick with the example of Germany and France: Germany shows a decentralised pattern wherein various domestic courts initiate proceedings for a preliminary ruling. France, on the contrary, is very centralised and sends references primarily from Paris.

Another outcome of the EUTHORITY research is a disparity between the referral behaviour of first level courts and peak courts. The project members observed that in the beginning, the first level courts submitted references more often than the peak courts. However, in the 1980s, this pattern changed: The peak courts became more active than other domestic judicial bodies.

Lampach cited two theories to explain this turning point: The Empowerment Theory and the Judicial Behaviour Theory. The Empowerment Theory argues that lower national courts enthusiastically began referring cases to the European Court of Justice to acquire new powers of judicial review. The peak courts later stopped this trend. According to the Judicial Behaviour Theory, workload and resources define a judge’s work ratio. In the beginning, the first level courts were functioning as "starts ups" which embraced the preliminary ruling mechanism. But the pressure on the peak courts increased when cooperation with the European Court of Justice gained more adherents. Furthermore, the peak courts have a smaller caseload, more support and assistance from clerks and other legal assistants, and therefore, a bigger capacity than lower domestic courts.

Despite the numbers of preliminary ruling proceedings, the content also shows disparities. The EUTHORITY project uses text mining as a data harvesting technique to obtain an overview of the topics discussed in the submitted references. Lampach illustrated that in Cargo Port Regions, words such as "product", "trade" and "custom" appear often, while in other regions, "contract", "proceed" and "service" are more common. On a regional level, the nouns "agriculture" and "fishery" appear more often in judgements, while in more urban regions, terms such as "law", "right" and "freedom" are predominant. Furthermore, intra EU-trade has a major impact on the referral behaviour: Courts in member states that trade more with the rest of the EU seem to submit more references to the Court of Justice.

The subsequent questions from the audience addressed topics such as the current developments regarding “legal tech”, the challenges of data protection within the EUTHORITY project, and generally, whether data collection and machines have the capacity to find profound scientific results in legal matters. But Lampach also encountered criticism from the auditorium concerning the project. One of the targets was the variables: Several auditors opined that the chosen factors had a major impact on the research results. Moreover, text mining was subjected to criticism: Some viewed this method as too perfunctory and doubted that it could replace a profound legal analysis. Lampach and the audience engaged in a lively discussion which created enriching output for all sides.

Magdalena Nemeth, May 2018


You can find the report in PDF-Format here.

Autonomous Cars - a technical introduction

05. Juni 2018


Eines der heißesten Eisen im Automobilbereich ist zurzeit das autonome Fahren. Beinahe alle großen Kraftwagenhersteller laufen hier auf Hochtouren und versuchen eine Vorreiterrolle einzunehmen. Auch die Gesellschaft nimmt das autonome Fahren immer stärker wahr und diskutiert darüber. Hier spielen die kürzlich aufgetretenen Unfälle mit autonomen Autos von Uber und Tesla eine große Rolle, bei denen jeweils ein Mensch zu Tode kam. Deswegen tauchen im Zusammenhang mit den autonomen Fahrzeugen vor allem Sicherheitsfragen auf.

Prof. Dr. Hermann Winner von der Technischen Universität Darmstadt, der selbst über 100 Patente auf dem Gebiet der Fahrzeugtechnik angemeldet hat, führte im Rahmen der LunchTimeSeries on Law, Technology and Society (LTS) am 5. Juni 2018 in die Technologie des „Autonomen Fahrens“ ein. Zunächst wies er darauf hin, dass es sich um kein brandneues Phänomen handle. Bereits Mitte der 1990er Jahren fanden erfolgreiche Tests mit automatisierten Fahrzeugen statt, beispielsweise im Rahmen des „Prometheus“-Projekts von Daimler. Abgesehen von kurzen Eingriffen des Kontrollfahrers fuhr das Auto bereits damals selbstständig auf der Autobahn von München bis in die dänische Stadt Odense.

Doch was genau versteht man unter dem Begriff „Autonomes Fahren“? Die SAE International teilt die Autonomie des Autos in sechs Levels ein. Je höher der Level, desto mehr verschiebt sich das Fahren des Autos und die Verantwortung dafür vom Menschen auf die Maschine. Der größte Einschnitt erfolgt hierbei von Level 2 auf Level 3. Bis Level 2 muss der Fahrer in der Lage sein, bei schwierigen Situationen sofort einzugreifen. Ab Level 3 behält die Maschine bei plötzlich auftretenden neuen Situation noch für ein paar Sekunden die Kontrolle, bis der Kontrollfahrer übernimmt.

Zur aktuellen Situation auf der Straße führte Winner aus, dass im öffentlichen Bereich bereits autonome Fahrzeuge getestet werden, die mit geringer Geschwindigkeit und einem Kontrollfahrer in ausgewählten Städten unterwegs sind.

Winner unterteilt die Anwendungsbereiche autonomer Fahrzeuge in vier Kategorien: 1. Der Autobahnpilot, der von Auffahrt zu Ausfahrt fährt; 2. der Einpark-Assistent, der ohne Anwesenheit des Fahrers einen Parkplatz sucht. Darauf aufbauend wären die nächsten Schritte 3. die Maschine, die auf allen Straßen unterwegs ist, und 4. das „Vehicle-on-Demand“, das z.B. als Taxi oder als Lieferdienst genutzt werden kann. Letzteres könnte, vergleichbar mit dem Bahnsystem, von einer Leitstelle aus losgeschickt werden und so die Bedeutung von Carsharing erhöhen.

Die Bewältigung all dieser Situationen ist nur möglich, wenn das Auto „sehen“ kann, wozu unterschiedliche Sensoren eingesetzt werden: Z.B. Lidar, die große Distanzen erfassen können, Nebel die Messung aber abschwächt; Ultraschallsensoren, die Ergebnisse mit einer Genauigkeit von 5-10 Millimeter liefern, allerdings nur ein kleines Sichtfeld haben oder Radar, die zwar kaum von Nebel eingeschränkt werden, dafür allerdings aufgrund der geringen Winkelauflösung Probleme bei der Erfassung von Außenabmessungen haben. Ungeachtet der individuellen Mängel ermöglichen diese Technologien, gemeinsam eingesetzt, eine genaue Analyse des Umfelds. Nichtsdestoweniger bleiben Unsicherheiten, z.B. wenn das Auto ein Hindernis erkennt, wo keines ist oder das Hindernis nicht erkennt und ungebremst dagegen fährt. Erkennen alleine genügt auch nicht, wenn das Fahrzeug am Ende die falschen Schlüsse zieht.

Wie sicher ist autonomes Fahren wirklich? Die Entwickler bringen als Argument für die Notwendigkeit autonomer Autos vor, dass der maschinelle Fahrer sicherer sei als der menschliche. Winner zufolge lässt sich dies vor dem Inverkehrbringen der autonomen Fahrzeuge derzeit noch nicht beweisen. Zusätzlich sei auch zu bedenken, dass der Mensch schon sehr sicher fahre, denn statistisch gesehen verursacht jeder Mensch nur 1,4 Unfälle im Laufe seines Lebens. Auf deutschen Straßen werden 210 Millionen Kilometer zurückgelegt, bevor ein tödlicher Unfall passiert. Auf der Autobahn steigert sich dieser Wert sogar auf 660 Millionen Kilometer. Mit diesen beeindruckenden Zahlen muss sich das autonome Fahrzeug messen lassen und diese Werte sogar noch übertreffen, um das Sicherheitsargument zu bestätigen. Ein aussagekräftiges Urteil über die Fehleranfälligkeit der autonomen Fahrzeuge lässt sich allerdings erst nach Milliarden von auf öffentlichen Straßen zurückgelegten Kilometern fällen.

Unabhängig von der technischen Ausgestaltung und den Einsatzmöglichkeiten autonomer Fahrzeuge ist unklar, wie die Gesellschaft auf die autonomen Fahrzeuge reagiert. Lohnen sich die Investitionen der Autobranche und der einzelnen Staaten überhaupt? Steigen Verkehrsteilnehmende auf autonomes Fahren um? Unvorhersehbar ist auch, ob der rechtliche Rahmen alle Aspekte des autonomen Fahrens erfasst oder ob Anpassungen notwendig sind, insbesondere weil die Maschine künftig mehr Verantwortung übernehmen wird. Obwohl die Regeln des Zivil- und Strafrechts lediglich reaktiv sind, sieht Winner darin zumindest einen ausreichenden Rahmen, um autonome Fahrzeuge testen und erforschen zu können.

Bei der anschließenden, regen Diskussion beantwortete Winner unzählige Fragen des interessierten Publikums und wies auf die Gefahren des Hackens von Systemen hin. Besonders gefährlich seien Zugriffe auf Leitzentralen, bei denen hunderte Fahrzeuge unter Kontrolle gebracht würden.

Winner geht jedenfalls davon aus, dass autonome Fahrzeuge schon bald auf den Straßen ankommen, die Gesellschaft und die Mobilität allerdings stark verändern werden. Er rät jedenfalls zu Behutsamkeit, denn es gebe im Technologiebereich viele Dinge, die auf Annahmen und Glauben, nicht aber auf Wissen beruhten, weshalb es wichtig sei, die technischen Neuerungen skeptisch zu betrachten und aufgrund unseres kleinen Wissensstands zu versuchen, das Unerwartete zu erwarten.

Martin Weinmann, Juni 2018


Den Bericht im PDF-Format ist hier verfügbar.

The Robot Judge: Law, Technology and Historical Patterns of Change

The Robot Judge: Law, Technology and Historical Patterns of Change

Date & Time: 15 June 2018, 12.00 - 1.30 pm

Location: Simony Haus SR 19/2, Peter-Jordan-Straße 65, 1180 Vienna

Please register until 12 June 2018 via

When will we see the first robot judge in action? Technology is a fundamental structure shaping society and hence law. Throughout history technological change has brought radical legal changes several times. By examining these periods of change, we can identify patterns that are helpful to understand the changes in law that technology is bringing about in our own time. We will then see that the robot judge is a rather old idea that still faces some serious obstacles.

Prof. Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, University of Bergen:

2007‐ Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway
2002‐ Head of Research at the Museum the Barony Rosendal, University of Oslo, Norway

2007 PhD (Disputation date: 16 June 2007), Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway
1999 Master, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway

The lecture will be followed by an open discussion. In Anglo-American tradition, catering will be provided during the lecture. The event is open for everyone and participation is free of charge.

You can find the announcement of Prof. Sunde's lecture here.

The LunchTimeSeries on Law, Technology & Society (LTS) is organized by Prof. Iris Eisenberger, in collaboration with Prof. Konrad Lachmayer. You can find the complete programm of the semester here.

Peer-to-Peer Law and the Commons

Peer-to-Peer Law and the Commons

Date & Time: 28 June 2018, 12.00 - 1.30 pm

Location: Guttenberg Haus, SR 03, ground floor, Feistmantelstraße 4, 1180 Vienna.

Please register until 25 June 2018 via

The computing model of peer-to-peer, a type of architecture in which actions are distributed, can be a source of inspiration for a law of the commons. Both movements, as alternatives to the market and state, question the Western concept of individual agency. By attributing rights and responsibilities to collective persons, the commons movement can take inspiration from environmental law and the law applied to artificial intelligence, both of which have succeeded in surpassing the notion of individual person.

Prof. Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Sorbonne Université:
Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, PhD in law (University Paris 2, 2007) is an associate research professor (permanent researcher since 2010) at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Head of the Information and Commons Research Group at the Institute for Communication Sciences of CNRS/Paris Sorbonne/UPMC, she is also a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science Department of Media and Communications.

The lecture will be followed by an open discussion. In Anglo-American tradition, catering will be provided during the lecture. The event is open for everyone and participation is free of charge.

You can find the announcement of Dulong de Rosnay's lecture here.

The LunchTimeSeries on Law, Technology & Society (LTS) is organized by Prof. Iris Eisenberger, in collaboration with Prof. Konrad Lachmayer. You can find the complete programm of the semester here.