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In this ACIL Lecture, Eyal Benvenisti will give a lecture entitled '“An AI for an AI”: Toward Algorithmic Checks and Balances'

Event details of ACIL Lecture: Eyal Benvenisti
Date 12 November 2018
Time 15:30 -17:00
Location Roeterseilandcampus - building A
Room Room A 3.01


Open, public deliberations are perceived as foundational for democracy; two-way communications between the government and the governed are considered essential for a functioning and legitimate administration. Law, both domestic and international, has long sought to ensure the flow of information to enlighten the marketplace of ideas and to ensure an informed and accountable government. But today, at the same time that a ‘culture of accountability’ has finally taken root among at least some global actors, the legal tools designed to promote accountability might become obsolete by the advent of new systems of governance that involve artificial intelligence (AI) that use raw data (rather than two-way exchange with stakeholders) as its input, rather than employing humans to form policies on the basis of exchanging information with stakeholders. The input of the new tools is to a large extent provided by new information and communication technologies (ICTs) that harvest and process raw data while replacing accessible, hence potentially inclusive, public agora with discrete, fragmented, and insular echo chambers vulnerable to manipulation and disinformation by private and public actors. These new systems challenge the foundational premises of the accountability school — that ‘the more communication, the better’ and that following a proper decision-making procedure is key to accountability. Domestic public law, defined by the need to address the principal/agent problem that is endemic in governance, has to adjust to algorithm-driven and self-learning machines that collapse the distinctions between principals and agents. The same goes for the international law on global governance that has functioned as a check on decision-making by national and international actors. The lecture will analyze the challenges that AI and ICT-driven governance pose to domestic public law and to the international law of global governance. It will explore the need for and potential of designing new legal tools for ensuring accountability of governance and the free flow of information to inform all relevant constituencies and to promote accountable governance, and more specifically, to facilitate the use of AI-driven checks and balances as a response to the Algorithmic Government.

The speaker

Eyal Benvenisti is the Whewell Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge. He was Anny and Paul Yanowicz Professor of Human Rights, Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law (from 2002) and Hersch Lauterpacht Professor of Law at the Hebrew University (from 1990). He was Global Professor of Law at New York University School of Law (since 2003). He was Visiting Professor at Yale, Harvard, Toronto, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and gave a special course at The Hague Academy of International Law (2013). Eyal’s areas of research and teaching are international law, constitutional law and administrative law. He is Project Director for the “GlobalTrust – Sovereigns as Trustees of Humanity” research project, funded by an ERC Advanced Grant.

Professor Benvenisti is the recipient of several prizes including the Humboldt Research Award and the Francis Deak Prize. He is an Associate Member, Institut de droit international (2011). He is on the Editorial Board of the American Journal of International Law, and International Law in Domestic Courts. Eyal’s most recent publications include: The Law of Global Governance, in the Collected Courses of The Hague Academy of International Law (2014; issued also as a “pocket book” in the Hague Academy series); The International Law of Occupation (2nd ed., Oxford University Press 2012); War is Governance: Explaining the Logic of the Laws of War from a Principal-Agent Perspective, 112 MICHIGAN L. REV. 1363 (2014) (with Amichai Cohen); Sovereigns as Trustees of Humanity: On the Accountability of States to Foreign Stakeholders, 107 AM. J. INT’L. L. 295 (2013).


Attendance is free of charge, registration per email to is however compulsory. Registered attendees receive the speaker’s paper.


Roeterseilandcampus - building A

Room Room A 3.01

Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
1018 WV Amsterdam