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In the legal field, automation is rife. Some lawyers claim that by 2030 99% of legal procedure can be automated. Legal Bots looks at different attempts to fuse the law and programming language together. To what extent can we translate the spirit of the law into the letter of computer code? With Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert and Max Hamsphire.

19:30 – 21:00
also this evening

Pop-in expo: Tools for Progress by Cédric van Parys

18:00 - 19:30 Thursday Bite

19:00 - 21:00 Night Shift: No pain, no gain?

19:30 - 21:00 Public Reading: Reading Justin (at the Superbowl)

19:30 - 22:00 KABK Value Futures

Museum open until 21:00


Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam


Standard€ 7,50
Students and Friends of Het Nieuwe Instituut€ 3,75
Thursday Bite€ 7,50

Judicial processes surrounding speeding incidents hardly involve human activity anymore: a speed camera captures vehicles that drive too fast, registers their license plates and an automated chain of events ensures that car owners find an official ticket on their mats within three days. This does not involve any interpretation of the law. A car is either driving too fast or it is not.

However, work on rather more all-round legal bots that can interpret the law by means of artificial intelligence is also ongoing. One important development is that of so-called ’smart contracts’. The fast-growing Ethereum cryptocurrency allows transactions that take place on its block chain to be provided with legally binding, programmed clauses that enter into force without the intervention of a human – an attempt to get rid of interpretation. An interesting incidental circumstance is that non-humans like other animals, areas and buildings can also complete transactions this way, giving them (the beginning of) the status of legal personhood.

To what extent can human interpretation be ‘programmed’ out of legal procedures? When and to what extent is this desirable?

Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert

Founder and managing partner of theJurists Europe Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert specializes in ICT law and intellectual property. Dobbelaere-Welvaert deals chiefly with issues concerning online privacy, legal tech (legal technology), AI (artificial intelligence) and freedom of speech. He studied law at Ghent University and obtained a postgraduate degree in ICT & Media Law from the University of Leuven (ICRI).

Max Hampshire 

Researcher Max Hampshire concentrates on unraveling the emergent politics of cryptographically-enabled platforms, as well as how autonomous technologies inform the structure of contemporary capitalism. Next to this, he is a sound artist (MFAAH, OSC~, Chimera Ensemble), and is the co-initiator of Noiserr, a nomadic audio-visual research group centered around noise. Hampshire holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam and is currently researching and working at the Institute of Network Cultures.

Thursday Bite

Before Thursday Night Live! you can grab a bite to eat with the speakers and staff of Het Nieuwe Instituut. At 18:00 Het Nieuwe Café will serve soup with bread or a quiche with salad. Dinner vouchers are available for € 7,50 up to a day before the particular Thursday Night event via the Tickets link or at the bar this evening.

Thursday Night at Het Nieuwe Instituut
Luca Napoli

Thursday Night Live! is a weekly programme of lectures, screenings and discussions on architecture, design and digital culture. Developments and critical insights are discussed by thinkers, designers and makers from the Netherlands and abroad.