Christopher Markou

Christopher Markou

PhD Candidate, Lecturer, Faculty of Law | Associate Fellow, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge


The University of Cambridge, Faculty of Law, PhD
The University of Manchester, School of Law, LLB (1st)
The University of Toronto, St, Michael's College, MA (Honours)
The University of Toronto, St, Michael's College, BA (Honours)


Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Doctoral Fellowship, 2014-2018
Programme in European Private Law, Postgradute Scholarship, 2016-2017
Wright Rogers Scholarship, The University of Cambridge, 2014-2018
Faculty of Law Bursary, The University of Cambridge, 2014-2018

Professional Associations & Memberships

The Law Society of Upper Canada
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
National Union of Journalists

Fields of research

Technology Law
Critical Techology Studies
Artificial Intelligence
Social Systems Theory
Complexity Theory
Philosophy of Technology
Science and Technology Studies
Evolutuionary Economics
Legal Autonomy and Technological Change: A Systems Theoretical Analysis of Artificial Intelligence


The machines rise, mankind falls. It’s a science fiction trope nearly as old as machines themselves. The dystopian scenarios spun around this theme can make for compelling entertainment but it’s difficult to see them as serious threats. Nonetheless, artificially intelligent systems continue developing apace. Self-driving cars share our roads; smartphones manage our lives; facial recognition systems help catch bad guys and sophisticated algorithms dethrone our Jeopardy and Go champions. Developing these technologies could obviously benefit humanity. But, then—don’t most dystopian sci-fi stories start out this way?

My thesis addresses the question of whether, and if so, to what extent, the legal system can respond to risks and challenges posed by increasingly complex and legally problematic technological change. It draws on theories of legal and social evolution—particularly the Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann—to explore the notion of a ‘lag’ in the ability of the legal system to respond to technological change and ‘shocks’. It evaluates the claim that the legal system’s lagged response to technological change is necessarily a deficit of its functioning, and hypothesises that it is instead an essential characteristic of the legal system’s autonomy, and of the processes through which the law ameliorates the potentially harmful or undesirable outcomes of science and technology on society and the individual.

It is clear that the legal system can respond to technological change, but only insofar as it can adjust its internal mode of operation, which takes time, and is constrained by the need to maintain legal autonomy. The visible signs of this adjustment take the form, among other things, of conceptual evolution in the face of new technological changes and risks. This process is observable in many historical precedents that are examined to demonstrate the adaptive capacity of the legal system in response to technological change. While it is true that legal systems are comparatively inflexible in response to new technologies, due to the rigidity of legal doctrine and reliance upon precedent and analogy in legal reasoning, an alternative outcome is possible; namely the disintegration of the boundary between law and technology and the consequential loss of legal autonomy. A change of this kind would be signalled by what some have identified as the emergence of a technological ordering—or a ‘rule of technology’—that displaces and potentially subsumes the rule of law.

My thesis evaluates evidence for these two scenarios—the self-renewing capacity of the legal system, on the one hand, or its disintegration in response to technological change, on the other. These opposing scenarios will be evaluated using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a case study to examine the co-evolutionary dynamics of law and technology and to assess the extent to which the legal system can shape, and be shaped by, technological change. It explores the nature of the AI, its benefits and drawbacks, and argues that its proliferation may require a corresponding shift in how the law operates. As AI develops, centralised authorities such as government agencies, corporations, and indeed legal systems, may lose the ability to coordinate and regulate the activities of disparate persons through existing regulatory means. Consequentially, there is a pressing need to understand how AI technology interfaces with existing legal frameworks and how the law must adapt in response to the creation of decentralised organisations that has yet to be explored by current legal theory.


Professor Simon Deakin (Peterhouse)

Professor Ross Anderson (Trinity)

Why using AI to sentence criminals is a dangerous idea

May 16, 2017 14:03 pm UTC| Insights & Views Law Technology

Artificial intelligence is already helping determine your future whether its your Netflix viewing preferences, your suitability for a mortgage or your compatibility with a prospective employer. But can we agree, at least...

We could soon face a robot crimewave ... the law needs to be ready

Apr 11, 2017 13:41 pm UTC| Technology Law

This is where we are at in 2017: sophisticated algorithms are both predicting and helping to solve crimes committed by humans; predicting the outcome of court cases and human rights trials; and helping to do the work done...



U.S. Treasuries gain on short-covering amid muted trading session

The U.S. Treasuries jumped in an uneventful day with no economic data of note due for release. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury, slumped 2-1/2 basis points to 2.24 percent, the super-long 30-year bond yields...

UK gilts tad higher in silent trading; investors eye Q2 GDP next week

The UK gilts traded tad higher Friday ahead of the countrys Q2 gross domestic product (GDP), scheduled for release early next week amid a silent trading session that witnessed data of little economic significance. The...

FxWirePro: Recession in US still far-fetched idea

There are many indicators like PMI reports, jobs reports, inflation, industrial output, business sales etc. that we take a look into in determining whether the US economy is slowing down and heading for a recession but...

Eurozone periphery bonds jump ahead of benchmark German manufacturing PMI

The Eurozone periphery bonds jumped as investors wait to watch the benchmark Germanys manufacturing PMI, scheduled for release early next week. The benchmark German 10-year bond yields, which moves inversely to its...

Bank Indonesia unlikely to change current monetary policy stance thorough 2017, says ANZ Research

Bank Indonesia (BI) is expected not to change its current monetary policy stance through 2017 and is keen to preserve the on-going stability in the bond and FX markets. The central banks decision to remain on hold in its...


Law expert: where the Brexit battles over the Repeal Bill will be fought in parliament

The most important national law governing the Brexit process has been tabled before parliament by the UK government. The proposed European Union (Withdrawal) Bill previously known as the Great Repeal Bill is likely to...

Modi's polarising populism makes a fiction of a secular, democratic India

After Donald Trump was sworn in as US president, The Times of India published a piece titled Why both Modi and Trump are textbook populists. Citing Jan-Werner Mllers What is Populism?, the journalist, Amit Varma, was...

Politicians jeopardise the safety of whistleblowers with bad technology

The Western Australian Liberal Party has created a website,, encouraging whistleblowers to report on WA public officers, government ministers and members of parliament. The site has already been...

Malawi set out to give students skills to support democracy. But it's not been easy

Like many other countries, Malawi was caught in the wave of democratic change that swept sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1990s. The wave was triggered by the fall of communism along with military and civilian dictatorships...

US under Trump Series: Donald Trump Jr. may be called to testify before Senate over his meeting with Russian lawyer

President Trump eldest son Donald Trump Jr. might be called upon by the Senate Intelligence Committee to question about a meeting that took place in June 2016 at the Trump Tower between Trump Jr., President Trumps...


Scientists Create Material 5x Stronger Than Steel And Soft As Rubber

Researchers in Japan recently succeeded in creating a soft and flexible material that is five times stronger than steel but feels like rubber. Such a material could have numerous applications including the development of...

Scientists Create Super Spinach That Can Function As Bomb Detector

For the most part, the leafy green spinach has only ever been super in the animated classic Popeye the Sailor Man when the quirky main character would down a whole can of the leaves to gain strength. Recently, scientists...

The Most Advanced Artificial Heart Can Perform As Well As A Real One

Scientists have been trying to create artificial versions of human organs for decades, be it the liver, skin, eyes, and above all, the heart. These efforts are aimed at solving one of the biggest challenges in the medical...

93% Of Patients Prefer Medical Marijuana To Opioids, Study Says

For years, medical marijuana was the only means of people to legally acquire a batch of cannabinoids. It was used by folks who suffered from actual medical problems and those who just preferred to get high alike. In a...

Google Subsidiary Wants To Eliminate Zika Virus By Releasing 20 Million Mosquitos

Fighting fire with fire is a phrase that many have used over the years to indicate the intent to answer aggression with the same. A Google subsidiary called Verily is taking the concept a step further with its goal of...


Musk Announced New York To D.C. Hyperloop Given The Go-Ahead

In case there was any doubt that Elon Musk can do the impossible, the Tesla boss recently announced via Twitter that he received a verbal green light regarding plans to create a Hyperloop connection from New York to...

Nintendo N64 Classic Could Be Coming, Trademark Filings Indicate

The SNES Classic isnt even out yet and already, there are indications that Nintendo could be producing N64 Classics down the road. This is what publications are interpreting from trademark filings that the company recently...

Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy Is Offering A Free Previously Unreleased Level, Limited Time Offer

The Crash Bandicoot franchise has been around for a long time but it seems the original games still had content that players never got to try. One previously unreleased level is actually on offer right now for free, but...

It Could Fail, Elon Musk Dampens Expectations Regarding Falcon Heavy Launch

SpaceX is set to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket, the much bigger brother to the Falcon 9 soon, but the companys CEO is already trying to dampen expectations. According to Elon Musk himself, the launch could end up as a...

YouTube Finally Gets Serious About ISIS Recruitment On The Platform, It’s About Time

While it might sound odd that YouTube, one of the biggest and most influential video sharing platforms in the world has not exactly stamped out ISIS recruitment videos yet, this is exactly the case. Somehow, there are...
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July 21 14:30 UTC Released

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