Aernout Schmidt - Complexity and Ambitions

About the speaker

Prof. dr. Aernout Schmidt is an emeritus professor in law and computer science. His research focuses on jurisdictions & their constituents as complex adaptive networked social systems, and their data-processing related discontents, resulting in, e.g., publications on (the discontents with) criminal sentencing policy-making (dissertation, 1987), intellectual property policy-making, and file-sharing (2007), design difficulties for information exchange between EU civil servants and judiciary professionals (e-CODEX, 2019) and on what simulation can teach us about how the KEI project (digitizing Dutch legal practice, 2019) collapsed. His main current concern is how complexity analysis can help recombine specialist disciplinary results for informed policymaking, for instance in preventing yet more failures of such recombinations as are currently eroding the statures of the sciences and the humanities (viz. many COVID-19 debates).


Complexity evolves and adapts, and traditionally hardly attracted scientific attention outside where forecasts of earthquakes and weather extremities were needed. Since 1973 Prof. Schmidt has been in Law & Computers. In this academic niche law & economics/sociology took the lead. Both had the ambition to be scientific, digging in supervised datasets for linear, context-free legal, social, and economic knowledge. During the active career, Prof. Schmidt came to understand that such knowledge does not exist and found, around 2010, that computer-supported services form complex adaptive networked social systems, with their designers, providers, agents, moderators, and users. Prof. Schmidt does not belong to the [ML, AI, BD] community yet expect your services to form such systems too. Prof. Schmidt will show and argue for a few heuristics that helped me evaluate the systems he encountered, hoping that they prove useful to you