Even if not all of us are experts in civil law, we routinely enter into contractual obligations with each other in everyday life. Whether we buy bread rolls, take out life insurance or book a flight – we trust that we can rely on each other. And if something does go wrong, laws or even courts settle the dispute. At first glance, the internet as a market place doesn’t make much of a difference. We simply order online instead of by phone or postcard like our grandparents We click and everything from loans to share purchases is done in a flash. Nothing else changes – right? Perhaps it is worth taking a closer look. Because automation shifts balanced rules in the background of contracts that we often don’t even know about. And the hype surrounding smart contracts shows that digitality may have great potential to change our understanding of mutual obligation. Technology is supposed to make automated contract processing possible that, at least in theory, works without trust – neither in each other nor in governmental institutions. But to what extent would that be progress?
Nikolas Guggenberger researches and teaches at Yale Law School on the automation of law and its impact on society. Previously, the legal scholar was a junior professor at the Institute for Information, Telecommunications and Media Law at the University of Münster. In this episode of Digitalgespräch, Guggenberger explains where digitality makes a difference to our contractual practice and sheds light on the background to the buzzword “smart contract.” With hosts Marlene Görger and Petra Gehring, he discusses whether sophisticated technology could replace the law and clarifies where German laws set limits to automation that the legal system in the U.S., for example, does not necessarily recognise.
Link to the Information Society Project :
The podcast is in German. At the moment there is no English version or transcript available.