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2 Law, Tech. & Hum. 1 (2020)

handle is hein.journals/lwtchmn2 and id is 1 raw text is: 

https: :1th Iutedu  auI                                                        LAW,  TECHNOLOGY AND HUMANS
Volume   2 (1) 2020                                                        https://doi.org/10.5204/Ithj.v2il.1540


Law, Culture and Things: Human Links to the


Richard   Mohr
Social Research, Policy and Planning Pty Ltd

The following four papers come out of a project examining the relations between law, culture and things.1 They inquire into
human  links with the material world. These links are mediated through technology which, in its many forms, enables humans
to fulfil material needs. Tools and their social organisation provide food, clothing, shelter and communication. This deep
imbrication with all facets of our lives means that the ways technology is used and organised have profound importance for
humanity  and the environment. Technologies can be  categorised as 'hard', involving manufacture and transport; 'soft'
information and communication  technologies; and 'wet' technologies of human sustenance, such as food production and
preparation. Law regulates or constitutes each of these in one way or another, while it is most often associated with soft
technologies used in record-keeping and artificial intelligence. This collection of papers examines the use of soft technology in
law, as well as law as a means of directing the uses of technologies that impinge on the natural environment and the human
body. These papers explore human and legal relations with technology and nature: legal records and decision-making; food and
nutrition at the intersection of law, science and culture; rights of and to land and nature; and human responsibility for the
environment and the impact of technology.

Law  conserves human  memory   in material records. For much of Western history these records have taken the form of
documents, files, statutes and written judgements. Both Western and non-Western cultures have also used other material objects
to symbolise and instantiate the law, including boundary markers, sacred pieces of wood, maces and coats of arms.2 Many of
the material records of Western law are now being digitised, so that law's memory is stored in binary code, requiring
information processing devices to access it.

In the past the very materiality of law's objects - their solidity, presence and perseverance over time - have served to authorise
and legitimise the law, as well as to conserve its substantive content. This persistence and conservation outlasted the authority
and memory  of any human actor and enabled the law to be transmitted from one generation to the next. 'The object makes our
history slow', says Michel Serres.3 So what difference does it make that law's memory is now hidden in digital code? Does law
removed  from materiality lose authority as it loses material substance? Or are there other risks in this transition to the digital?
Francesco  Contini outlines some of those risks in his paper.

i The authors of the four papers in this collection would like to acknowledge the contributions of the participants in an earlier discussion of
this work at the Linking Generations for Global Justice conference of the Research Committee on Sociology of Law in Ofati on 20 June
2 Mohr, Enduring Signs; Mohr, Shifting Ground.
3 Serres, Genesis, 87.

     c        K  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. As an open access journal,
                 articles are free to use with proper attribution. ISSN: 2652-4074 (Online)

© The Author/s 2020

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