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Mr Christopher Markou's picture


Education CV


  • The University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law, PhD
    • Visiting Fellow, CitizenLab, The Univeristy of Toronto
  • The University of Manchester, School of Law, LLB (1st)
  • The University of Toronto, St, Michael's College, MA (Honours)
    • Visiting Researcher, The Hebrew Univeristy of Jerusalem
  • The University of Toronto, St, Michael's College, BA (Honours)


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


    • Faculty of Law, The University of Cambridge, Economics of Law and Regulation (LLM), Guest Lecturer, Lent 2017
    • Department of Land Economy, The University of Cambridge, Law and Economics Paper 12, Guest Lectuer, Lent 2017
    • Faculty of Law, The Univeristy of Copenhagen, RoboLaw, Guest Lecturer, February 2017

    Professional Associations

    • The Law Society of Upper Canada
    • The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
    • National Union of Journalists
    • Legal Expert Committee, Responsible Robotics
    • Research Associate, Centre for Business Research (CBR), The Univeristy of Cambridge

    Fields of research

    • Technology Law
    • Emerging Technologies
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Technology Policy
    • Horizon-scanning and Foresight
    • The Future of Work
    • Evolutionary Economics
    • Systems Theory
    • Complexity Theory


    The Intersystemic Conflict of Law and Technology: A Systems Theoretical Analysis of Artificial Intelligence


    Law and technology regularly come into conflict with each other. The reasons for this are several and complex. Some of these conflicts are trivial and resolvable without much difficulty; others are not. History teaches us that when law and technology have come into conflict, both have demonstrated remarkable adaptive capabilities that allow them to adapt to shifting social circumstances and continue performing their respective functions. Simply put: law evolves. But what are the limits of law’s adaptive capabilities in the face of overwhelmingly complex and powerful technological change in the 21st century?

    My thesis addresses the question of whether, and if so, to what extent, the legal system can respond to risks and challenges posed by increasingly complex and legally problematic technological change. It draws on theories of legal and social evolution—particularly the Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann—to explore the notion of a ‘lag’ in the ability of the legal system to respond to technological change and ‘shocks’. It evaluates the claim that the legal system’s lagged response to technological change is a deficit of its functioning, and hypothesises that it is instead an essential  characteristic of the legal system’s autonomy, and of the processes through which the law ameliorates the potentially harmful or undesirable outcomes of science and technology on society and the individual.

    The legal system can respond to technological change, but only insofar as it can adjust its internal mode of operation, which takes time, and is constrained by the need to maintain legal autonomy. The visible signs of this adjustment take the form, among other things, of conceptual evolution in the face of new technological changes and risks. This process is observable in many historical precedents that demonstrate the adaptive capacity of the legal system in response to technological change. While legal systems are comparatively inflexible in response to new technologies, due to the rigidity of legal doctrine and reliance upon precedent and analogy in legal reasoning, an alternative outcome is possible; namely the disintegration of the boundary between law and technology and the consequential loss of legal autonomy. A change of this kind would be signalled by what some have identified as the emergence of a technological ordering—or a ‘rule of technology’—that displaces and potentially subsumes the rule of law.

    My thesis evaluates evidence for these two scenarios—the self-renewing capacity of the legal system, on the one hand, or its disintegration in response to technological change, on the other. These opposing scenarios are evaluated using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a case study to examine the co-evolutionary dynamics of law and technology and to assess the extent to which the legal system can shape, and be shaped by, technological change. It explores the nature of AI, its benefits and drawbacks, and argues that its proliferation may require a corresponding shift in how the law operates. As AI develops, centralised authorities such as government agencies, corporations, and indeed legal systems, may lose the ability to coordinate and regulate the activities of disparate persons through existing regulatory means. Consequentially, there is a pressing need to understand how AI technology interfaces with existing legal frameworks and how the law must adapt in response to the creation of decentralised organisations that has yet to be explored by current legal theory.


    Professor Simon Deakin (Peterhouse)

    Professor Ross Anderson (Churchill)

    Representative Publications

    Papers Presented

    • '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 Law Think About AI?' Society of Legal Scholars Conference, Jesus College, The Univeristy of Oxford, 5 October 2016


    Start Date

    Oct 2014

    End date

    Jun 2018