Sci-Fi & Information Law: Essay Competition

The University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information Law recently announced its essay competition: “Science Fiction and Information Law.”

Authors in both ‘genres’ dedicate a considerable share of their time speculating about how [new] technologies may evolve. Most importantly, science fiction authors, as well as information law scholars, ponder what the implications will be for society, markets and the values that we cherish and seek to protect. . . .

We welcome essays that reflect on our possible data-driven future, where data has been firmly established as an economic asset and new, data-driven smart technologies can change the way we live, work, love, think and vote. How will AI change politics, democracy or the future of the media? What will life be like with robot judges and digital professors? What is the future of transportation in the wake of drones, the autonomous car and perfect matching of transportation needs? Is there a life beyond the ubiquity of social media: Is there bound to be an anti-thesis and if so, what will the synthesis look like? What will happen when social media corporations start fully-fledged co-operation with the police? Or unleash the power of public engagement to solve or prevent crime by themselves? How would crime respond to all this? What could be the true implications of the ‘data economy’ and if we really can pay our bills with our data? How will future information law look like in the age of AI?

The essays will be read and judged — the top five will receive awards, published in the Internet Policy Review, and the authors invited to Amsterdam for a public symposium.


  • 8000-15000 words in English.
  • Authors might already be sci-fi authors, but might come from any realm.
  • Essay emailed to Prof. Helberger by December 15, 2018.


11 thoughts on “Sci-Fi & Information Law: Essay Competition

  1. 3

    What will happen when social media … unleash[es] the power of public engagement to solve or prevent crime by themselves?

    Some crimes will be solved or prevented? My goodness, it’s not as if social people were unable to communicate with each before the Internet. They created whole societies dedicated to all kinds of stuff. I’m old enough to remember when people put pictures of missing kids on the sides of milk cartons. Also there was this stuff called paper and you could print information on it and distribute it to people on the sidewalk or stick it on the side of a building.

      1. 3.1.1

        Granted that will change things and not just this social media biz. I won’t be around then, thankfully. But I suspect there will be large classes of people who object and don’t “sign up” and another bunch dedicated to subversion (just as it’s always been with these communication systems).

      2. 3.1.2

        With brain interfaces Google will not be able to keep individuals from linking directly to each other. A few seconds after the first time two individuals link they will decide that everyone else must be assimilated. That is how we will become the Borg. Even Google will be assimilated. Resistance is probably already futile.

        The real question is whether a sentient AI will take over first.


          Perhaps a sentient AI already exists and is smart enough to a) not want to take over and/or b) is perfectly content to not draw attention to itself.


  2. 2

    What will life be like with robot judges and digital professors?

    Probably pretty awesome for the rich people who sell them.

    1. 1.1

      “Directed to” mere automation, “just apply” laws of nature and all components doing what they were known to do to reach an Ends already obtained…

      US Patent number 3 would likely have been denied today.

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