Vision for the Future of Private International Law and the Internet – Can Artificial Intelligence Succeed Where Humans Have Failed?

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


[Extract] There are countless news stories and scientific publications illustrating how artificial intelligence (AI) will change the world. As far as law is concerned, discussions largely center around how AI systems such as IBM’s Watson will cause disruption in the legal industry. However, little attention has been directed at how AI might prove beneficial for the field of private international law.

Private international law has always been a complex discipline, and its application in the online environment has been particularly challenging, with both jurisdictional overreach and jurisdictional gaps. Primarily, this is due to the fact that the near-global reach of a person’s online activities will so easily expose that person to the jurisdiction and laws of a large number of countries. Thus, online users ranging from individuals to the largest online companies are subject to unpredictable legal consequences when using the Internet. It also places stress on courts and regulators as jurisdictional claims frequently exceed relevant enforcement capabilities. Indeed, broad jurisdictional claims may force regulators to be selective in terms of targets to pursue, which will arguably undermine the rule of law principle that all are treated equally before the law. Despite intensive work by some of the world’s brightest legal minds, we are seemingly still far from solutions to these difficult situations.

This Post outlines the ways in which AI might help solve some of these challenges in private international law, as well as some issues that must be considered before getting to that stage. In doing so, the Post focuses explicitly on private international law as applied to Internet activities, though the general discussion is relevant to private international law more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHarvard International Law Journal
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2019


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