VUB-Research-Professor Mireille Hildebrandt has been awarded a prestigious grant by the European Research Council.

VUB-Research-Professor Mireille Hildebrandt has been awarded a prestigious grant by the European Research Council.

2,5 million for research into the consequences of artificial intelligence and blockchain for the law

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 — Lawyer and philosopher Mireille Hildebrandt has won a prestigious ERC-Advanced Grant of 2,5 million euro. With this funding she will investigate the implications of digital law, notably artificial legal intelligence and legal applications of blockchain. The title of her research is ‘Counting as a Human Being in the Era of Computational Law’. Hildebrandt works at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and at Radboud University in the Netherlands. She is part of the VUB-research group on Law Science Technology & Society studies (LSTS) 

As a lawyer and a philosopher, Mireille Hildebrandt has been working on the nexus of law and computer science. Having investigated the consequences of data-driven environments for democracy and the Rule of Law, she has recently focused on the use of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in the law itself (‘legal tech’). Think of law firms, the office of the public prosecutor, the judiciary, but also public administration, public notaries and tax authorities that employ computer systems to take legal decisions, or to predict or prepare them. Hildebrandt will lead fundamental research into the assumptions and implications of our current, text-driven law and compare them with those of data-driven law (artificial legal intelligence) and code-driven law (e.g. smart contracts based on blockchain). Four lawyers and philosophers (in Brussels) and two computer scientists (in Nijmegen) will map the potential consequences of the introduction of computational law for, for instance, the comprehensibility and the contestability of the law. This way, Hildebrandt aims to safeguard the Rule of Law at the level of the development of ‘legal tech’, notably by uncovering the trade-offs that are inherent in the various design choices. The overarching objective is to develop a new legal hermeneutics (interpretation methodology) that enables lawyers and citizens to assess, interpret and contest the output of computational systems.

European Research Council
The European Research Council, set up by the European Union in 2007, is the first European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. Every year, it selects and funds the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age, to run projects based in Europe. The ERC has three core grant schemes: Starting Grants, Consolidator Grants and Advanced Grants. The ERC has awarded seven Flemish scientists working for Flemish institutes.

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Mireille Hildebrandt