ALPSA Seminar: AI and the Law
7 March 2018
Forgan Smith Building, The University of Queensland

On 7 March 2018, ALPSA members had the privilege of hearing from Dr Robert Mullins on the subject of AI and Law. Dr Mullins, currently of the UQ School of Law, is currently in the process of researching developments in AI and its implication for legal reasoning and adjudication, and kindly volunteered to share some of his research and insights with students.

In a time where so much focus and energy of law students is spent on job prospects and vocational skills, Dr Mullins’ seminar was a pertinent reminder of the importance of creative critical thinking during the course of a legal career, whatever that career may entail.

It was particularly delightful to hear from Dr Mullins, as not only was Dr Mullins a former UQ Law Student, but also a former member of ALPSA himself. At the start of the seminar, Dr Mullins made note of the attendance of Professor Jonathan Crowe, and thanked him for the support he provided for ALPSA when Dr Mullins was involved. Interestingly, Professor Crowe himself will be delivering a seminar hosted by ALPSA, details of which will be released shortly.

I thank Dr Mullins for his contributions to ALPSA and its members, and wish him all the best for his research on behalf of the society – we are all greatly interested to see what his research finds.

Ewan Raeside
ALPSA President, 2018

From legal software to self-driving cars, artificially intelligent machines are becoming increasingly prominent within society. Many academics believe that artificial intelligence is experiencing a renaissance following on from the artificial intelligence winter of the late 20th century. This raises a plethora of legal and ethical issues. For example, what liability risks may be associated with the rise of intelligent machines? How can machine algorithms be designed to ensure that artificial intelligence makes decisions that are both ethically and legally acceptable? Should artificial intelligence be incorporated in the judicial system, with legal reasoning and sentencing decisions made by autonomous machines?

A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of hearing from Dr Robert Mullins on these issues and more. In ALPSA’s first seminar of 2018, Dr Mullins provided an illuminating insight into what artificial intelligence is, how it is relevant to various disciplines, and the difference between strong and weak artificial intelligence. Following this, Dr Mullins explored logic based approaches to artificial intelligence, and illustrated this through computational models of case-based reasoning. Finally, Dr Mullins provided an overview of normative dilemmas and conflicts that can be faced with the use of intelligent machines, and provided a philosophical perspective on freedom of choice and human agency.

The seminar was greatly enjoyed by the audience, which had approximately 90 people. Following Dr Mullins’ presentation, a delicious cheese platter and refreshments were provided, and attendees had a chance to network and discuss philosophy, artificial intelligence and the law.

Thank you to everyone who attended. We have two more exciting legal philosophy seminars planned for semester one, and can’t wait to see you all there.

Simon Lamb
ALPSA Education Officer, 2018