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Systems theory, law, and digital media workshop

Venue: Birkbeck 30 Russell Square

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Location: Room 101, 30 Russell Square

Time: 12:30pm - 6pm 

Teams link to join online.

This workshop brings together experts on social systems theory with researchers and students applying it to contemporary problems at the interface of law and digital media. We will be joined by Professor Elena Esposito (Bielefeld) and Professor Hans Georg Moeller (Macau, @carefreewandering), two of the leading interpreters of systems theory today. 

Systems theory as specified by Niklas Luhmann, Germany's leading social theorist of the twentieth century, regards modern society as a complex, emergent, and paradoxical structure within which communication plays a lively, unpredictable, differentiated, functional, and autopoietic role. Luhmann's cool and dispassionate approach treats classical philosophical dualisms - subject and object, mind and body, nature and culture, human and machine - as constructed and contingent values that operate differentially in evolving systems of communication. Over twenty-five years after his death, Luhmann's neocybernetic project is particularly well-adapted to understanding and interrogating the evolution of society as it is confronted by new problems of its own making. Professor Esposito's recent book Artificial Communication (MIT 2022) and Professor Moeller's concept of 'profilicity', outlined in his book with Paul D'ambrosio, You and Your Profile (Columbia University Press 2021), are two compelling applications of systems theory to the digital world. 

In this workshop, these ideas will be explored and interrogated in their application to the law of digital communication, along with systems theoretical ways of framing and interrogating legal developments in relation to the digital: from identity, to data, to platforms, to artificial forms of cognition.

All are welcome to attend. To view online, please click this link



12:30-1pm Welcome

1pm – 2.15pm Panel 1: Law and systems-theoretical epistemology

  • Ioana Bratu (Open University) Communicative spaces from Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 through the lens of systems theory
  • Nathan Moore (Birkbeck) No, we can’t: some tentative ideas about systems theory and justice
  • Bhumika Billa (Cambridge) Law as Code: Exploring Information, Communication and Power in Legal Systems

2.15pm – 2.30pm Break

2.30pm – 3.45pm Panel 2: Profiles and regulation

  • Favour Borokini (Nottingham) What avatars afford: An afrofeminist perspective on profilic communication via visual representations
  • Lucas Henrique Muniz da Conceicao (Bocconi, Milan) A Constitutional Reflector? Assessing Societal and Digital Constitutionalism in the Oversight Board
  • Bernard Keenan (Birkbeck) Profilicity, authenticity and the critique of online harm

3.45pm – 4pm Break

4pm – 5.45pm Panel 3: Keynote speakers

  • Hans Georg Moeller (Macau) On Profilicity and the “Authentic-Romantic Paradigm”
  • Elena Esposito (Bologna & Bielefeld) On Generative AI and its social consequences

5.45 – 6pm Close

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