Data Science and the need for collective law and ethics

Dr Jake Goldenfein (MLS) and Dr Sebastian Benthall (NYU) present their research on ‘Data science and the need for collective law and ethics’ in this event, co-hosted by The Centre for AI and Digital Ethics and the HMI project from the Australian National University.

Efforts to regulate businesses doing large-scale data processing typically have their basis in liberalism. Privacy and data protection, property rights in data, and consumer protection models work to protect or scaffold the autonomous decision-making capacities of the individual. We argue that these forms of regulation, and the ethics behind them, are largely incompatible with the techno-political and techno-economic dimensions of data science. Over the course of the 20th century, computer science, cognitive psychology, operations research, statistics and other fields, have converged on an understanding of utility-maximizing agency that, combined with a neoliberal legal configuration, guarantees the supremacy of private corporations over individuals that would know and defend their own individual interests. In particular, platforms, as data-processing businesses within the digital economy, have inverted the relationship between individuals and the market, making the former public and the latter private.


Dr Jake Goldenfein
Melbourne Law School

Jake Goldenfein is a law and technology scholar at Melbourne Law School and an Associate Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society. Prior to his appointment at MLS, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell Tech, Cornell University, and was a lecturer at Swinburne Law School. Jake studies the regulation of surveillance; law in cyber-physical systems; the relationship between data science and legal theory; and platform governance.

Associate Professor Tatiana Cutts
Melbourne Law School

Tatiana joined MLS from the London School of Economics in 2020. Her research spans law and technology, private law and legal theory. She has conducted extensive public-facing work on blockchain technology and cryptoassets, and is currently writing a book (“Artificial Justice”) on the relationship between algorithmic and human decision-making in matters of justice.

Tatiana is an Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, and received her D.Phil, BCL and LLB from the University of Oxford.

Dr Sebastian Benthall
Research Fellow,  Information Law Institute, NYU

Sebastian Benthall is a Research Fellow at the Information Law Institute, NYU School of Law and a Research Engineer at Econ-Ark. He has a PhD from UC Berkeley’s School of Information. His research applies computational methods to questions about the political economy of information.

Professor Seth Lazar
Project Lead, HMI Project

Seth Lazar is an Australian philosopher and Professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. He is also Head of the School of Philosophy. Lazar won the Frank Chapman Sharp Prize in 2011 "for the best unpublished monograph on the philosophy of war and peace". He is known for his research on defensive war.