Code vs. Code


Code vs. Code



First, there was the “law of code”, the application of traditional legal norms enacted by parliament to regulate new and emerging technologies. The shortcomings and dissatisfaction with this approach soon gave rise to the idea of "Code is law", a catchphrase in the age of the digitalisation that expressed the idea through the internet's computational infrastructure, code regulates, constrains and facilitates on-line behaviour. Programmatically, it also highlighted a danger – that a form of regulation that drew its legitimacy from the democratic process was in danger of being replaced by a mode of governance where unappointed and often unaccountable software developers became de-facto legislators. Even more recently, and depending on one's position either acerbating or mitigating this danger, we have seen the emergence of a discussion on Law (enacted in the form of) computer Code, or Law as Code, changing the way we think about the legislative process and the regulation of technology. If we combine these three ideas, we get closer and closer to a formal equivalence between capital letter Codes of law, and small letter software code. Provocatively styled in the form of a divorce proceeding, this conference therefore asks questions about the relation and delineation between traditional legal codes and software code as modes of regulation.

This debate has gained new urgency in the light of emerging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and, in the future, quantum technologies. Studied together and separately, these emerging or disruptive technologies operated by computer code have an impact on codifying, applying and enforcing the law. The term "versus" underlines a confrontation between the codes (or rules) of the computer scientist and the lawyer and also a domination or a transformation. These three meanings will be mobilisedduring the conference. Indeed, if the law can be an instrument of regulation of emerging technologies, it can also be the object of these digital stakes.

« Code vs. Code », a domination ?

The question raised is the adaptation of our legal rules to supervise the uses of emerging digital technologies. Artificial intelligence questions the modes of production of knowledge or creativity, quantum technologies are likely to accelerate such processes, and the registry and traceability functions of the blockchain are increasingly used as a tool for the administration of evidence. Can the law cope with this and reassert its priority ? Should we revisit our legal categories and update them ? Or is the law already prepared to respond to digitalisation ?

« Code vs. Code », a transformation ?

Law does not just control technology, our understanding of what law is can also influenced, challenged and changed by technology. Computer code has the potential for optimising traditional law-centric forms of governance, for instance by mobilising predictive tools based on artificial intelligence and trained on past precedents, or smart contracts deployed on the blockchain. What can AI, Blockchain and quantum computing do to change the law ? Can this codeification or « code as law » replace the traditional ways of enacting, applying and enforcing the law ?

« Code versus code » a confrontation ?

The question of access to and understanding the algorithms is the underlying issue of this stream, and with that also in particular the role of IP law to govern technologies. AI, Blockchain and Quantum Technologies have different degrees of maturity. There is an inherent tension between different legal regimes, those that limits access and reduces openness and transparency of these technologies (IP law) and those that like the proposed EU AI Act, or more traditionally competition law, that try to force algorithms into the open. This stream of the colloquium will question the opening or closing of these technologies, especially through property rights. Is it according to the degree of maturity? the social uses ? these acceptance of the society of these technologies ?

These three possible relations between legal code and software code may not exhaust the space of possibilities, and other relations may be possible. Should we imagine other models of governance for « Code and code » in « peaceful coexistence » ? Such a reflection can only take place in a broad interdisciplinary context.

The colloquium is therefore not only for researchers in law and computer scientists, but also for researchers in philosophy, sociology and information and communication in order to better understand and anticipate the major human and societal issues.

On three continents (Europe, Asia and Canada), researchers in SHS and ST will be gathered in a videoconference and in presence over two days.

The first day will be devoted to keynote speeches dedicated to each emerging digital technology (AI, blockchain and quantum). The second day is to be an interdisciplinary « think out of the box » scientific workshop. The discussion will be facilitated by a moderator and a rapporteur. Otherwise, the discussion will be quite free for each group, in order to bring out possible creative solutions.

Participation in this workshop is open to all researchers and PhD students.




Wednesday, June 21st


1 pm : Welcome
Amélie Favreau, Senior Lecturer, University of Grenoble Alpes, Scientific coordinator of the conference
Caroline Bertonèche, Professor and President of the Academic Concil of University of Grenoble Alpes
Chinesta Soria Francisco, Professor, ENSAM, leading DesCartes a CNRS@Create Program, Singapore (Videoconferencing)
Vincent Aimez (TBC), Professor and Vice-President Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer at the Université de Sherbrooke

1.30 pm : Introduction
Marina Teller, Professor in Law, University of Nice - France


Panel on artificial intelligence

Chair : Maeliss Vincent-Moreau, Lawyer at MVM in Paris

2 pm : Keynotes
Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Director of Research in Law, CNRS (Videoconferencing) 

Promise or Reservations ? Public Perceptions of AI Applications in Singapore
Shirley S. Ho, President's Chair Professor in Communication Studies and Associate Vice President for Humanities, Social Science& Research Communication at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore

Natural Language & Trust in Foundation Models
Melvin Chen, Lecturer in Philosophy, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore

Generative AI : This Time is Different ?
Andrew Prawl, Assistant professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Learnings from a Responsible Innovation Framework : the case of ChatGPT and Generative AI (Videoconferencing)
Céline Verchère, Research Professor in Sociology, University of Sherbrooke, Canada and François Thibeault, Research Assistant, University of Sherbrooke

3.30 pm : Questions and break


Panel on Blockchain and the metaverse

Chair : Elise Guilhaudis, Lawyer at Numetik in Grenoble, and Christine Hennebert, Senior Research Engineer / Expert, CEA

4.00 pm : Keynotes - Will the Real Web 3 Please Stand Up ?
Andres Guadamuz, Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law, University of Sussex, UK

NFTs : A case study on how technology can(not) solve a legal issue
Gaetano Dimita, Senior Lecturer in Law, Queen Mary University of London, UK (Videoconferencing)
and Michaela Macdonald, Lecturer at School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Consumer Law and Blockchain
Marie-Claude Desjardins, Professor in Law and Technology, University of Sherbrooke, Canada

Computer Code 0, Legal Code 1 : Scorecard from the Blockchain Metaverse (Videoconferencing)
Hannah Lim Yee Fen, Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore

5.30 pm : Questions and break


Panel on Quantum Technologies

Chair : Robert Whitney, Physicist Researcher at CNRS, and Maud Vinet (TBC), CEO SiQuance

6.00 pm : Keynotes - The Law of the Cat : Quantum computing and the future of law as code
Burkhard Schafer, Professor of Computational Legal Theory, University of Edinburgh – UK
Jean-Marc Deltorn, Associate Professor, University of Strasbourg

Hard rules versus soft norms ? Lessons of previous normative initiatives on AI for quantum technologies
Charles-Etienne Daniel, Professor in Law and Technology, University of Sherbrooke, Canada

6.45 pm : Questions

7.00 pm : Closing


Thursday, June 22nd




1.30 pm : Welcome
Ingrid Maria, Professor in Law, UGA - France

2.00 pm : Working groups on Artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum technologies

4.00 pm : Break

4.30 pm : Report of the working groups

6.00 pm : Discussion

6.30 pm : Closing



Registration free and compulsory :
Registration Form June 21st : https://my.weezevent.com/conference-code-vs-code-1

Registration Form June 22nd : https://my.weezevent.com/conference-code-vs-code-june-22nd

Registration form to follow the panels : https://univ-grenoble-alpes-fr.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Bw069NaxSh-hZuY2qEQnlg#/registration

Registration form to follow the workshop : https://univ-grenoble-alpes-fr.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_j-peB_WFTPS2QuWRtmC8kA#/registration 

Conference organised by the CRJ Laboratory Grenoble-Alpes University

Maison de la création et de l'innovation – MaCI
Université de Grenoble-Alpes
339 Avenue Centrale
38400 Saint-Martin-d'Hères

Université Grenoble Alpes
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Centre de Recherches Juridiques