Published: Nov. 17, 2022

Professor Harry SurdenHarry Surden, Professor of Law and director of the Silicon Flatirons Center Artificial Intelligence Initiative, delivered the 47th annual Austin W. Scott, Jr. Lecture at the University of Colorado Law School on November 10. The lecture was titled “Artificial Intelligence and Law”. The Scott lecture is presented annually by a member of the faculty engaged in a significant scholarly project who is selected by the dean. 

Watch the recording here.

In this lecture, presented in a hybrid format, Professor Surden—himself a former software engineer and leader of the emerging interdisciplinary field of AI and Law—explored: What is Artificial Intelligence? How is law affecting Artificial Intelligence? What are the major issues involving AI, law, and society today and in the near future? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is much in the news these days. Professor Surden explained that as a concept, AI could seem completely unrelated to the field of law, however AI and Law are intricately intertwined and are becoming more so each day. Law regulates artificial intelligence, but artificial intelligence also affects the practice of law. 

Professor Surden devoted a good portion of the lecture to explaining in broad strokes how AI actually works, what it is and what it is not. His remarks emphasized that in order to understand the intersection of AI and the law, we must seek to understand the technology in its own right. Surden explored the limits of AI as it exists today and how it differs from the way popular culture often portrays it.

Ultimately, AI is neither inherently good or bad for law, explained Professor Surden. It holds potential for a fairer legal system or, if used improperly, one that is less fair and more prone to bias.

About Professor Harry Surden

Harry Surden is a Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School. He joined the faculty in 2008. His scholarship centers upon artificial intelligence and law, legal informatics and legal automation (including machine learning and law), self-driving cars and law, intellectual property law with a substantive focus on patents and copyright, information privacy law, and the application of computer technology within the legal system.

Prior to joining CU, Professor Surden was a resident fellow at the Stanford Center for Legal Informatics (CodeX) at Stanford Law School. In that capacity, Professor Surden conducted interdisciplinary research with collaborators from the Stanford School of Engineering exploring the application of computer technology towards improving the legal system. He was also a member of the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse and the director of the Computer Science and Law Initiative.

Professor Surden was law clerk to the Honorable Martin J. Jenkins of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco. He received his law degree from Stanford Law School with honors and was the recipient of the Stanford Law Intellectual Property Writing Award.

Prior to law school, Professor Surden worked as a software engineer for Cisco Systems and Bloomberg Finance L.P. He received his undergraduate degree with honors from Cornell University.

Professor Surden is an Affiliated Faculty Member at The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics (CodeX).

About the Annual Austin W. Scott, Jr. Lecture Series

The Austin W. Scott Jr. lecture is named after Austin Scott, a member of the law school faculty for 20 years. He was a beloved teacher as well as a prolific writer, whose scholarly work was in the fields of criminal law and procedure. In 1973, former Colorado Law Dean Don W. Sears established the lecture series in his memory. Each year, the dean of the law school selects a member of the faculty engaged in a significant scholarly project to lecture on his or her research. Learn more about the Austin W. Scott Jr. Lecture.

See recordings of recent lectures on the Colorado Law YouTube channel.