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...



Chinese authorities announce new formula to fix yuan exchange rate

On Friday, Chinas authorities announced another change to the formula to fix the yuan exchange rate. The China Foreign Exchange Trade System stated that the Peoples Bank of China is changing the method of fixing rate that...

Japan's underlying inflationary pressures remain subdued, highlight difficult task ahead for the BoJ

In Japan, data from the Internal Affairs Ministry showed on Friday that Japans core consumer inflation gauge rose for a fourth month in April, the longest run of gains since mid-2015, but remains far below the central...

U.S. Treasuries gain ahead of Q1 GDP data; slightly higher initial jobless claims lend support

The U.S. Treasuries gained Friday as investors await the countrys first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), scheduled to be released later in the day. Further, the slightly higher reading of the initial jobless claims,...

EUR/HUF likely to remain steadily higher over the coming year, says Commerzbank

MNB remained dovish at its May Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting this week, but there was the absence of any fresh dovish signals, which made markets wonder whether or not MNB was going to reconsider its ultra-dovish...

FxWirePro: The Day Ahead- 26th May 2017

Not many economic data and events scheduled for today and some with high volatility risks associated. Upcoming: The 43rd G7 summit begins today in Italy. United States: Feds Bullard is scheduled to speak at...


How World War I changed the weather for good

Culture has rarely tired of speaking about the weather. Pastoral poems detail the seasonal variations in weather ad nauseam, while the term pathetic fallacy is often taken to refer to a Romantic poets wilful translation of...

Beyond Brexit: ‘Global Britain’ looks to the emerging Anglosphere for new opportunities

What lies beyond Brexit? This is not just a question for the United Kingdom and the European Union, but also one that will reverberate around the world. One answer is the Anglosphere. Often spoken of as an...

Electioneering in the social media age

Britain is engaged in a General Election contest and once again political parties are investing money, time and energy in their online presence. The Tories are ploughing cash into Instagram adverts and Labour is doing its...

How UKIP’s decline could provide a major boost for Theresa May

The British prime minister Theresa May called a snap general election in the expectation that it will deliver her a substantially increased parliamentary majority. This in turn would give her the strong and stable...

US under Trump Series: Appointment of Mueller as special counsel is good news for policies

Last week, the US deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein appointed the former FBI director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to the investigation to Russias meddling with the US election and alleged collusion between the...


There Are Now Tattoos That Can Say It Was Stupid To Get A Tattoo Out Loud

Humans have had a long history with tattoos, going back to the hunter-gatherer days when primitive tribes would mark themselves after a successful hunt or winning a war. These days, tattoos have become a fashion statement,...

Gas Station On The Moon Planned, Mars Mission Jump Point

There are several developments in the space sector right now, one of which is the effort to colonize Mars. However, this project has quite a few obstacles with energy burnout being a major factor. This is where a Caltech...

Arms Early Impressions Favorable, Nintendo Switch Motion Control Seems Good

When it was announced that Nintendo was going to be released a fighting game with motion controls called Arms, many were concerned that the response wouldnt be up to par. Based on early impressions, however, both the game...

Scientific Proof That Vegans Are Right, Going Meatless Will Save The World

In developed communities, particularly in the US, Vegans have earned unfortunate reputations for being a little annoying. However, new scientific research suggests that they may actually have the right standpoint on the...

Inoculation theory: Using misinformation to fight misinformation

As a psychologist researching misinformation, I focus on reducing its influence. Essentially, my goal is to put myself out of a job. Recent developments indicate that I havent been doing a very good job of it....


Another Private Rocket Company Competes With SpaceX, Successful Test Reaches Space

Theres no denying that Elon Musks SpaceX is the most popular private space company in the business right now. However, its not the only one. Another American company successfully launched a rocket from a New Zealand site,...

Free ‘The Witcher’ Game Available To Players Of ‘Gwent’ Closed Beta

CD Projekt Red has opened the doors to the open beta of the Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, so everyone can finally try out the spin-off card game found in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt title. This isnt the end of the surprises,...

Fallout 4 Is Free-To-Play This Weekend, But Only This Weekend

Theres no doubt that Bethesdas Fallout 4 video game has been a financial success, but it seems the company wants to increase the exposure of the title years after its release. This weekend, players will be able to download...

Far Cry 5 Details Revealed; Cults And Inbred Characters?

After confirming a few details about Far Cry 5 last week, Ubisoft promised that it will do the official announcement of the game in a few days. In the meantime, the company released an official artwork for the game that...

DJI Introduces ‘Spark’ Its Smallest Drone Yet, Only $499

Chinese tech company DJI is undeniably dominating the drone market, but in order to stay on top, it needs to provide more variety to its lineup. Introducing the new Spark, the companys smallest drone that comes with an...
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May 26 14:30 UTC Released

USECRI Weekly Annualized*


5.1 %



5.0 %

May 26 14:30 UTC Released

USECRI Weekly Index*


144.1 %



144.5 %

May 28 15:00 UTC 26462646m

SAM3 Money Supply YY*




0.0 %

May 28 15:00 UTC 26462646m

SAPvt Sector Loans YY*




-0.1 %

May 29 08:00 UTC 36663666m

EZLoans to Households*




2.4 %

May 29 08:00 UTC 36663666m

EZLoans to Non-Fin




2.3 %

May 29 08:00 UTC 36663666m

EZMoney-M3 Annual Grwth*



5.2 %


5.3 %

May 29 23:30 UTC 45964596m

JPAll Household Spending MM*



1.1 %


-2 %

May 29 23:30 UTC 45964596m

JPAll Household Spding YY*



-0.7 %


-1.3 %

May 29 23:30 UTC 45964596m

JPJobs/Applicants Ratio



1.46 %


1.45 %


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