The ERC Advanced Grant proposal 'Computable Law', or CompuLaw, coordinated by Prof. Giovanni Sartor, was selected for funding by the European Research Council in the 2019. Motivation for CompuLaw lies in the need for the law to govern intelligent computational entities, and the human-artificial social ecology in which they participate. These entities are so many, so fast, and so ubiquitous that it is impossible for humans to monitor them and anticipate illegal behaviour. The solution envisaged by Compulaw is to make law computation-oriented. That is, to integrate, map and partially translate legal and ethical requirements into computable representations of legal knowledge and reasoning. The European University Institute (EUI) and the University of Bologna provide the main expertise for the five-year multi-disciplinary project.

Five-year project with 3 specific challenges

  • Identify ways in which (autonomous) computations are introduced, governed and embedded in social contexts. Specify opportunities, risks, and social, economic and ethical implications. Critically evaluate existing laws and available regulatory models and suggest solutions.
  • Analyse and define logical-computational methods for the legal governance of computations
  • Define a regulatory framework for the hybrid infosphere combining regulations directed to humans, system requirements and regulation directed to (autonomous) computational entities.

Main objectives

COMPULAW aims to translate legal contents (legal norms, legal values, and institutions), and processes (application, interpretation, enforcement of the law) into specifications for computational systems, and computable representations of legal knowledge and reasoning.

Achieving this goal requires a highly interdisciplinary perspective, relaying the combination of three disciplinary domains: a social-legal cluster, a philosophical-logical cluster, and a computing-AI cluster. On this basis, the project will adopt a socio-technical perspective in addressing legal issues, and it will enrich the legal and regulatory toolbox with cognitive, logical, and computational models of the law. It will address the following: (a) legal frameworks for developers, deployers and users; (b) languages and methods for computable laws; and (c) architectures for law-responsive computational entities.

COMPULAW involves not only law, legal theory and legal informatics, but also research domains such as software engineering, artificial intelligence, multiagent systems and electronic institutions, deontic logic and computational argumentation. It will contribute to

  • formal languages for legal requirements,
  • agent architectures providing capabilities to comply with norms,
  • norm-based coordination mechanisms for agent societies, and
  • computable patterns of justification/ argumentation to enable agents to check the correctness of their and others’ behaviour and to explain and justify it according to applicable norms

 Find more about CompuLaw Project Articulation and the Kick-off meeting held to launch the project.