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Dr Christopher Markou's picture

PhD (Cambridge), LLB (Manchester), B.A, M.A. (Toronto)
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow & Affiliated Lecturer


Leverhulme Research Project: 2018-2021: Artificial Intelligence and Legal Evolution

Lawyers, economists and technologists are forecasting fundamental changes to the legal system and the delivery of legal services. Technological advancements, globalisation and the emergence of alternative legal service providers are contributing to a growing sense of de-stabilisation and uncertainty about the future of the legal practice, education and the conceptual foundations of the law itself. It seems that the knowledge and expertise of lawyers and judges is now at stake; with the burgeoning LegalTech industry beginning to map out what legal processes—and implicitly: legal concepts—might be amenable to automation. With algorithmic decision systems seeping into more aspects of public and private sector contexts--doing legal 'work' more cheaply, quickly and effectively than humans--some suggest that the law is approaching a 'legal singularity': a point at which computers vastly surpass the capabilities of humans. But what does this mean for the future of law and the role of lawyers, judges?

One consequence of digitalisation, AI and machine learning is that it has made previously tacit and conventional knowledge encodable and computable. In some sense this process is familiar, as a similar thing occurred, for example, in the transformation of the tacit knowledge of the silk weavers’ guild into a mechanised process thanks to the invention of the Jacquard loom in the early years of the last industrial revolution. When applied both to adjudication and lawmaking, algorithms promise powerful increases in speed and accuracy in legal decision-making, perhaps also eliminating the biases that can permeate human judgment. Furthermore, using machine learning algorithms to automate lawmaking and enforcement might prove especially useful, even essential, for overseeing automated private-sector activity, such as high-speed securities trading. According to some, there is no aspect of lawmaking and adjudication that cannot be done better by machines.

Despite these apparent advantages, the spectre of rule by algorithm has already begun to raise alarm. Algorithmic adjudication and lawmaking imply a loss of autonomy and control over self-government. If the law was nothing more than an elaborate series of rules and directives than perhaps many aspects of it would be amenable to computerisation and automation. However, the law seems to entail more than that, and there might be some irreducible quality to social facts, legal concepts and processes that cannot be imputed computationally. If this is so, the question then becomes: are there limits to the computability of legal processes and concepts? Are there contexts in which computers should not be entrusted to make consequential decisions, and thus prohibited entirely? How do we identify, define and justify what those are when the allure of ever-greater efficiency is strong? The answer to these question is profoundly consequential to the growth of the LegalTech industry and whether the shift towards an increasingly algorithmically intermediated legal system will really result in a more fair, equitable or accessible system, or simply entrench power among a new technocratic elite. 


Research Interests

- Societal Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

- Computability of Law/Legal Norms

- Regulation of AI and Emerging Technologies

- Socio-Legal/Complexity Theory

- LegalTech

- 'Future of Law' and Legal Education

- AI Governance and Industrial Strategy

- Psychosocial, behavioral, and socio-economic impact of technology



    • Leverhulme Trust, Early Career Fellowship, 2018-2021
    • Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, 2014-2018
    • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Doctoral Scholarship (Offered), 2014-2018
    • Programme in European Private Law (PEPP), Postgraduate Scholarship, 2016-2017
    • Wright Rogers Scholarship, The University of Cambridge, 2014-2017
    • Faculty of Law Bursary, The University of Cambridge, 2014-2017


    • Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London, 'Artificial Intelligence, Law and Society' (LLM), Course Director/Lecturer, 2019
    • Faculty of Law, The University of Cambridge, 'Economics of Law and Regulation (LLM), Affiliated Lecturer, 2018-2019
    • Faculty of Law, The University of Cambridge, 'Economics of Law and Regulation' (LLM), Lecturer, 2018
    • Department of Land Economy, The University of Cambridge, 'Legal Methods (Paper 5)', Lecturer & Supervisor, 2018
    • Department of Land Economy, The University of Cambridge, 'Law and Economics (Paper 12)', Affiliated Lecturer & Supervisor, 2017

    Professional Associations

    • Legal Expert Committee, Responsible Robotics
    • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)


      CV / Biography

      Papers Presented

      • 'Lex ex Machina: The Limit's of Law's Computability' Data-Driven Personalisation and the Law, University of Southampton, 27-28 June 2019
      • 'Governance by Numbers When Numbers Don’t Lie: Dataism, Smart Cities, and the Architecture of the Legal Singularity' Surrey Workshop on Regulating AI, University of Surrey, 21-22 March 2019
      • 'Is Technology Making Us Miserable?' Cambridge Science Festival, Jesus College, University of Cambridge, 11 March 2019
      • 'Smart Cities and Ubiquitous Artificial Intelligence' Social Sciences and Law Interdisciplinary Conference, Jesus College, University of Cambridge, 3 March 2018
      • 'Law, Technology & Labour: The Case of Artificial Intelligence' The Future of Labour Markets Conference, UK Cabinet Office/Open Innovation Team, 14 December 2017
      • 'What Role For Law in AI?' University of Krakow, Program in Private European Law, 20 January 2017
      • 'Complexity Theory as a Paradigm for Artificial Intelligence Regulation' Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk, Clare College, The University of Cambridge, 12 December 2016
      • ‘Courtroom Application of Virtual Reality’, London, Bar Standards Board, 8 December 2016
      • 'Law, Work and Technology: A Systems Approach' Rustat Conference on the Future of Work, Jesus College, The Univeristy of Cambridge, 22 November 2016
      • 'How Should The Law Think About AI?' Society of Legal Scholars Conference, Jesus College, The Univeristy of Oxford, 5 October 2016

      Book Chapters

      • 'Governance by Numbers When Numbers Don’t Lie: Dataism, Smart Cities, and the Architecture of the Legal Singularity' in M Tinnirello and T Lozano (eds) The Global Politics of Artificial Intelligence (CRC Press 2019).
      • 'Nineteen Eighty-Four's Religion' (with Professor James Crossley) in E Di Nucci and S Storrie (eds) 1984 and Philosophy (Open Court 2018).




      Book Chapters

      "Governance by Numbers When Numbers Don’t Lie: Dataism, Smart Cities, and the Architecture of the Legal Singularity" in , The Global Politics of Artificial Intelligence (CRC Press) (Ed)

      CRC Press
      Published Date:
      Mar 2019

      "Nineteen Eighty-Four's Religion" in James Crossley, 1984 and Philosophy (Open Court)

      Open Court
      Published Date:
      Dec 2017
      James Crossley


      Our Sexual Future With Robots: A Foundation for Responsible Robotics Report

      Noel Sharkey, Aimee van Wynsberghe, Scott Robins, Eleanor Hancock
      Jul 2017
      Body / Institution:
      Foundation for Responsible Robotics

      The Future of Work

      Professor Simon Deakin
      Mar 2017
      Body / Institution:
      Jesus College, The University of Cambridge