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New Technology Shapes our Understanding of what is Legal

ONGOING RESEARCH: Amin Parsa’s research on migration and the use of new technology in tracing mobility focuses on how the use of such technology can potentially reshape our laws.

– I want to show how our use of new technology is shaping the way that we do law, says Amin Parsa.

– Generally my research is about the relationship between law and technology. Artificial intelligence and decision making technology, in specific. How the use of such technology can potentially reshape and create new laws and legal practises.

Law, in part, is shaped by the material world- be that barbed wire, walls, soldiers’ uniforms, or algorithmic calculations. So the material world shapes the way that we interact, shapes and limits our possibilities of action and thinking, and therefore shapes our decisions and understandings of legality and legitimacy.

Artificial intelligence and other technology in tracking mobility are not just instruments, but active participants of the practices for which they are initially developed.

Technology is forming legal change

The European Border Surveillance System, EUROSUR, collects data regarding the movement of migrants as well as creating predictive maps for future “migratory events” and suggesting types of intervention.

Their function is to predict future migration, its direction, its destination and its means, long before it happens.

But Amin’s research looks at how the use of such technology also can have another function and potentially redefine, if not all together make redundant, long standing principles of international law such as “the principle of non-refoulment”.

Avoiding the moment of legal responsibility

Let’s start from the beginning: “the principle of non-refoulment”. Every State has by international law a responsibility towards anyone who seeks asylum. This responsibility means States cannot return to potential danger, anyone who seeks asylum protection.

But this responsibility only applies when an interaction happens between the State official and the asylum seeker.

All a State needs to do in order to avoid such responsibility is to avoid interactions that might trigger the legal responsibility.

The question then is, what role can technology play in shaping such interactions?

What motivates you in your daily work?

– At the scale of this research: the opportunity to ask questions in order to locate the violence of borders and the current mobility injustice in its right place.

Where are you looking for data in your research?

– I am scanning sociological writings on science and technology as well as debates in security studies and legal scholarship. Day to day I follow the news on the development of new technology, I go to conferences about new development and follow legal cases.

What have you found so far?

– Artificial intelligence and other technology in tracking mobility are not just instruments, but active participants of the practices for which they are initially developed, says Amin Parsa.

 

Amin Parsa has been at the Sociology of Law Department since the beginning of last year and currently holds an international postdoc from The Swedish Research Council (VR).

– I appreciate the research environment here. It is open and has a culture of diversity and interdisciplinary research, says Amin Parsa. 

Photo of Amin Parsa by Emma Lord.

BACKGROUND AND TEACHING

Amin Parsa has a PhD in Public International Law from the Law Faculty at Lund University, where he also did his Masters in International Human Rights Law. His doctoral thesis on laws of war looked into the US counterinsurgency and drone targeting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Amin Parsa currently holds an international postdoc from VR here at the Sociology of Law Department. He is also at working at Vrije University in Amsterdam, at the Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law.
Amin teaches courses at Lund University in for example Gender in Science and Technology, Physics and Gender Studies and International Law and Human Rights Law.

Main research areas:

  • Politics of International Law
  • Law and Technology
  • Law and Politics of borders
  • Public International Law including; Laws of Armed Conflict and International Human Rights Law

Learn more on Amin Parsa’s personal page

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Sociology of Law Department
Lund University
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Faculty of Social Sciences