The Centre for Global Law and Innovation of the University of Bristol Law School and the Faculty of Law at Universidade Católica Portuguesa co-organised an online workshop to discuss emerging issues in digitalization and AI decision-making in administrative law proceedings. I had the great pleasure of chairing it and I think quite a few important issues for further discussion and research were identified. The speakers kindly agreed to share a recording of the session (available here), of which details follow:
Digitalization and AI decision-making in administrative law proceedings
This is a hot area of legal and policy development that has seen an acceleration in the context of the covid-19 pandemic. Emerging research finds points of friction in the simple transposition of administrative law and existing procedures to the AI context, as well as challenges and shortcomings in the judicial review of decisions supported (or delegated) to an AI.
While more and more attention is paid to the use of AI by the public sector, key regulatory proposals such as the European Commission’s Proposal for an Artificial Intelligence Act would largely leave this area to (self)regulation via codes of practice, with the exception of public assistance benefits and services. Self-regulation is also largely the approach taken by the UK in its Guide to using artificial intelligence in the public sector, and the UK courts seem reluctant to engage with the technology underpinning automated decision-making. It is thus arguable that a regulatory gap is increasingly visible and that new solutions and regulatory approaches are required.
The panellists in this workshop covered a range of topics concerning transparency, data protection, automation of decision-making, and judicial review. The panel included (in order of participation):
• Dr Marta Vaz Canavarro Portocarrero de Carvalho, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of Universidade Católica Portuguesa, specialising in administrative law, and member of the Centro de Arbitragem Administrativa (Portuguese Administrative Law Arbitration Centre).
• Dr Filipa Calvão, President of the Comissão Nacional de Proteção de Dados (Portuguese Data Protection Authority) since 2012, and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
• Dr Pedro Cerqueira Gomes, Assistant Professor at Universidade Católica Portuguesa and Lawyer at Cerqueira Gomes & Associados, RL, specialising in administrative law and public procurement, and author of EU Public Procurement and Innovation – the innovation partnership procedure and harmonization challenges (Edward Elgar 2021).
• Mr Kit Fotheringham, Teaching Associate and postgraduate research student at the University of Bristol Law School. His doctoral thesis is on administrative law, specifically relating to the use of algorithms, machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies by public bodies in automated decision-making procedures.