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AI and Criminal Justice Workshop with Fair Trials’ Griff Ferris

Griff Ferris, a leading AI and criminal justice expert at Fair Trails, delivered an exciting interactive workshop as part of our AI, Disruptive Technologies and the Law Year 3 module.

Fair Trials is an international NGO that campaigns for fair and equal criminal justice systems. Their work involves research, campaigning for law reform, supporting strategic litigation and building partnerships with lawyers, activists, academics and other NGOs. Griff leads on Fair Trials’ work on the use of AI in criminal justice. Previously, he was a legal and policy officer at Big Brother Watch, where he investigated and challenged infringements of human rights as well as oppressive and discriminatory use of technology and data by the state, police and private companies.

In this guest workshop, Griff talked about recent developments in the field, focusing on the growing use of automated decision-making and facial recognition by law enforcement and other agencies. This included crucial issues such as discrimination, transparency, the right to privacy, presumption of innocence, and freedom of expression. Students engaged with two recent reports by Big Brother Watch (Facial Recognition Surveillance) & Fair Trials (Automating Injustice: The use of AI & ADM Systems in Criminal Justice in Europe), and participated in an interactive ‘campaigning exercise’ where they had to provide practical solutions and address the pressing criminal justice challenges raised by AI.

Working with Lewisham Borough, engaging local students with the study of Law

Over 30 sixth form and college students from Lewisham attended the launch event of the Lewisham Challenge Law programme on Wednesday 17 November 2021.

In collaboration with Lewisham Borough and the Widening Participation team at Goldsmiths, the Department of Law is delighted to support this year long programme that sees students take part in a range of activities, including guest lectures, student panels and trips to law focused venues as well as our campus. The programme helps to inspire the next generation of lawyers, critical thinkers and social justice advocates.

“This programme is an opportunity for Lewisham students to network with law professionals, academics and current degree students. They will be able to really explore future study and career options and their experience will have a positive impact upon their current studies by widening their knowledge and developing their critical skills” – Sid Hughes, Lewisham Challenge, LBN

Students at the launch event had the opportunity to participate in a range of activities including Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos (Head of Goldsmiths Law Department) in conversation with Shereener Browne, of Garden Court Chambers which helped raise awareness of pathways, career opportunities and provide an understanding of what it is like to study Law at Goldsmiths.

“There could not be a more urgent time to work with students in our local community, to create academic aspiration for them and enrich their confidence, experience and understanding of future career pathways, in Law and related subjects. Despite the invaluable efforts of teachers and schools, the pandemic will have substantially disrupted these students’ experience over the last 18 months; we have a civic responsibility to support the local synergies that will empower these students and catapult them into successful academic destinations. 

As a Department of Law that was built on the foundation of the pursuit of equality and social justice, we are thrilled to join forces with the London Borough of Lewisham and our Widening Participation team, and grateful for the warm reception we’ve had from the students who have joined us for this launch. Judging from the energy in the room and participation tonight, this will be a most impactful programme and we can’t wait for the next opportunity to immerse students into Law as substantive knowledge and self-sustained system, with its own cultural norms, institutional attitudes and idiosyncratic methods.” – Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos, Head of Goldsmiths Law Department.

Attendees also had an opportunity to hear from current Goldsmiths law students Tasnim and Oliver, who shared their own educational journeys and decisions with the current sixth formers. It was clear from the Q&A session that followed, just how much the audience valued the advice being given by all of the speakers.

“I’m really pleased that we are able to support such an engaging programme of events over the course of the year, strengthening our ties with local schools & colleges, the Borough of Lewisham and supporting our Civic responsibilities. We are really keen to help inspire students in Lewisham and it is evident that the speakers at the event did just that.” – Faye Yasmin. Widening Participation Manager.

Attending Year 12 pupils from schools and colleges across Lewisham included Sydenham, Forest Hill, Haberdashers Hatcham, Prendergast, Sedgehill and Knights Academy Sixths alongside students from Christ the King Colleges.

Law students attend Hamlyn lecture delivered by Lord Pannick QC

Lord Pannick QC delivering the first Hamlyn lecture

A few lucky Goldsmiths Law students were amongst a small audience attending in person the – within hours – sold out first Hamlyn lecture at Gray’s Inn Hall on October 11th.

The lecture, that is coordinated by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London, was delivered by Lord Pannick QC, one of the most distinguished barristers in the country, who has led in the Miller (1) and Miller (2) cases, where the Government suffered historic defeats, on the triggering of Article 50 and the prorogation of Parliament respectively. More recently, Lord Pannick acted for Shamima Begum at the Supreme Court.

The President of the UK Supreme Court, Lord Reed, introducing Lord Pannick.

The lecture celebrated advocacy (“The Essence of Advocacy”). Lord Pannick sought to identify the central characteristics of good and bad advocacy with the aid of examples from courtroom practice in the UK and abroad.

Lord Pannick elaborated on ten principles that all good advocates should follow such as sound knowledge of the relevant area of law (naturally), focussing on the strong(er) arguments, but being aware – and working on – weaknesses in your argument, engaging with the bench, plain speaking, avoiding “boring” the judge or taking the risk of humour, and ensuring you never lose your temper (no matter how serious the provocation).

Goldsmiths Law students with our Head of Department, Prof Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos

The lecture included an impressive range of references to great orators and politicians; Demosthenes, Aristotle, Seneca, Abraham Lincoln, Obama got a number of mentions, as did contemporary lawyers in the US and the UK, though not always for good reasons!



Decolonial theory, AI and beating algorithmic oppression

DeepMind experts visit our AI, Disruptive Technologies and the Law Year 3 class.

Last week, we welcomed Iason Gabriel and William Isaac from DeepMind’s AI Ethics and Society Team at Goldsmiths (virtually). William and Iason joined our ‘AI, Disruptive Technologies and the Law’ Year 3 class—to talk about their cutting-edge research on AI ethics, fairness and governance, and to answer our students’ questions.

DeepMind is one of the world’s leading AI companies, responsible for various innovative products such as AlphaGo (which beat former Go champion Lee Se-dol 4-1) and AlphaFold (AI designed to solve protein folding, one of the grandest challenges in science). DeepMind’s Ethics Team in particular, where William and Iason are senior research scientists, deals with the key ethical challenges raised by AI—its goal is to build safe, accountable and socially beneficial AI that works for all. William is an expert in the areas of fairness and governance of AI, and his work has been featured in leading publications including Science and the New York Times. Iason is a political theorist and philosopher, with expertise in AI ethics and distributive justice, whose work has been featured in Nature and recent European Parliament reports on AI.

In this session, Iason and William talked about their fascinating work in the area and discussed two of their recent papers with our students: ‘Decolonial AI: Decolonial Theory as Sociotechnical Foresight in Artificial Intelligence’; and ‘Artificial Intelligence, Values, and Alignment’. These articles aim to address a range of complex socio-economic challenges posed by AI—we reflected on decolonial theory in the context of AI and the key question of addressing algorithmic oppression, exploitation and dispossession through responsible and fair AI governance. We discussed the challenge of building ethically-aligned AI systems and the normative framework necessary to achieve this, emphasizing the importance of establishing a fair, robust and genuinely inclusive process for identifying such principles.

The session thus exposed our Law students to world-leading research on AI ethics and governance and allowed them to reflect on the future of artificial intelligence more generally.

Goldsmiths Law’s Dr Plamen Dinev, a leading expert on the relationship between the Law (particularly Intellectual Property law) and technology is teaching and coordinating the AI, Disruptive Technologies and the Law module, which embeds a number of thought-provoking encounters with industry experts and academics.

Internationally leading QCs appointed as Visiting Professors at Goldsmiths Law

We are thrilled to welcome Jessica Simor QC and Schona Jolly QC as VisitingProfessors in the Department.

Jessica Simor QC is a founding member of Matrix Chambers. In 2016, she was a UK nominee for Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, and is recognised as one of the country’s leading specialists in public law, EU law and human rights law. From 1993-1997, she worked in the Environment Directorate of the European Commission in Brussels, the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg and then as legal adviser to the Human Rights Ombudsman in Bosnia.

Jessica was counsel in numerous landmark cases, including Smith and Grady v UK (ending the ban on homosexuals in the Armed Forces), R (Wright) v Home Secretary (the first case in which the Home Secretary was ordered to initiate a public inquiry into a death in custody) as well as the historic R (Miller) v Prime Minister caseshe represented the second claimant there, Dos Santos.

Jessica’s work on Brexit continues to attract significant engagement from legal and policy experts in the area. She is also currently acting in the judicial review challenge to the decision of UK Export Finance Department and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide UK financing of $1.15bn in respect of Total’s liquid natural gas development in Cap Delgado in Mozambique, and is leading a project to advocate for EU legislation with extra-territorial effects to ensure a living wage for workers in the garment sector.

Schona Jolly QC is the Chair of the Bar Human Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) (which means Goldsmiths Law now has as Visiting Professors the current and former Chairwomen of BHRC; Kirsty Brimelow QC was the first Chairwoman of the BHRC) and Head of Human Rights Practice Group at Cloisters Chambers.

Schona is bringing to Goldsmiths her unique insight and leading expertise in international human rights law and the rule of law internationally.

Over the last decade, Schona has been at the forefront of international human rights and rule of law work in countries around the world, including Central Asia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Turkey and across South Asia. Her dynamic and practical contributions to the field engage law and policy.

She has deep expertise in equality and discrimination law, with an international focus on minority rights.

Students and academics at Goldsmiths work closely with our eminent Visiting Professors, who teach our students, support our research and join forces with our academic team in much needed public and community engagement.