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Economic and Legal Challenges in the Advent of Smart Products

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Design: S. Adamick

Convenors

Prof. Dr. Herbert Dawid (Bielefeld University, GER)

Prof. Dr. Sabine Gless (University of Basel, SUI)

Gerd Muehlheusser (University of Hamburg, GER)

Coordinator at ZiF

Dr. Nadine Sutmöller

nadine.sutmoeller@uni-bielefeld.de
+49 521 106-12836

Economic and Legal Challenges in the Advent of Smart Products

October 2021 – July 2022

The advent of digitization has already changed our everyday lives in many fundamental ways, and it is widely expected that this development will continue in the future at an even accelerated speed. These developments also constitute major policy challenges, for example with respect to infrastructure investments, standardization, regulation, and legislation.

The main agenda of the research group is to gain a better understanding of the impact of legal responses to challenges in the digital age and the advent of so-called "smart products" by explicitly taking into account the reaction of economic actors, which are subject to the legal environment. This would allow (i) to gain important insights on crucial mechanisms driving the effects of potential legal changes in response to accelerated digitization, and (ii) to highlight resulting trade-offs between different goals (e.g., product safety, privacy protection, technological development, consumer protection, well-informed court decisions). The main examples of smart products considered by the research group will be highly automated vehicles (AVs), digitized appliances and ambient intelligent environments (where domestic appliances are capable of responding to human behavior). However, we will also interpret the associated legal and economic challenges more broadly. Since the development and diffusion of smart products are inherently long-lasting processes, taking a dynamic perspective seems of particular importance.

 

The group will pursue a broad methodological approach (including formal theoretical modeling, legal analysis, simulations, experimental and empirical studies) to address a number of specific research questions organized in three work modules:

Work Module I: The Impact of Legal Rules on the Development of Smart Products

This module is concerned with the legal regulation of smart products and in particular with the liability for accidents caused for example by autonomous vehicles or household robots. The autonomous decision making by these products raises interesting and novel aspects for many fields of law. For instance, as the users of such devices exercise less control, many argue that there should be less scope for legal responsibility of users, and more scope for manufacturers and software developers. The legal environment influences the incentives of producers to develop smart products and to invest in their safety features. Combining a legal and economic perspective the research group shall investigate how different legal rules affect behavior of actors along the value chain, the timing of market introduction and market penetration of smart products, and the evolvement of product safety over time.

Smart products bring an increase in human-robot interaction, which puts privacy at risk as these products observe, record, and evaluate the behavior of human users to predict future behavior. Often the overall goal is to enhance safety with the smart product reacting automatically and autonomously, and simultaneously registering its observations and assessments. Constant monitoring, however, affecting the privacy of users will raise concerns. In the past, such concerns were often related to classic privacy issues connected to the fear that citizens' preferences, dissents or behavior will become transparent. In recent years, new matters have emerged, among them the question whether law enforcement and criminal investigation may make use of big data or even enforce their entrance through a digital "back door" left open for over the air-updates. In this work module, the research group addresses the following questions: First, how does the legal environment affect consumers' trust concerning privacy protection when using smart products, and how does this affect the acceptance and diffusion of smart products? Second, to which extent can data generated by smart products be used as evidence in criminal fact-finding and how would an access of criminal law investigation and an advent of "smart product witnesses" impact the behavior of producers and users of smart products (e.g., design choices and degree of adoption)?

An important issue in the first two work modules is to investigate how changes in the legal environment affect the innovative activities of firms. For major technological innovations, which smart products without doubt constitute, also the reverse question is highly interesting: How does the legal system adapt to technological change? In this work module, the research group will explore the mechanisms driving the feedback between technological change and adaptations of the legal system over time, with a particular focus on a proactive legal approach on innovation. The form and drivers of such adaptation processes so far are not well understood. In this work module, the research group will study the relevant regulatory "ecosystem" and the role of new approaches for regulating innovations, like regulatory sandboxes, in the context of smart products.

Meetings

Opening Conference

Opening Conference: Economic and Legal Challenges in the Advent of Smart Products

4 - 6 October 2021

Programme (PDF)

Product Innovations: Liability, Incentives and Market Dynamics

19 - 21 January 2022

Programme (PDF)

Smart Products, Privacy and Trust

14 - 16 March 2022

Programme (PDF)

Legal Rules in the Age of Smart Products

27 - 29 June 2022

Programme (PDF)

Economic and Legal Challenges in the Advent of Smart Products

17 - 19 July 2023

Programme (PDF)

Members

Prof. Dr. Herbert Dawid

Economics
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Sabine Gless
Law
University of Basel (SUI)

Prof. Dr. Gerd Muehlheusser
Economics
University of Hamburg (GER)

J.-Prof. Dr. Nicola Bilstein
Management
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Berno Büchel
Economics
University of Fribourg (SUI)

Dr. Ulrico Celentano
Engineering
University of Oulo (FIN)

Prof. Dr. Michael Decker
Technology Assessment
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (GER)

Asst. Prof. Dr. Sharon Di
Engineering
Columbia University (USA)

Prof. Dr. Martin Diewald
Sociology
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Bijan Fateh-Moghadam
Law
University of Basel (SUI)

Prof. Dr. Eberhard Feess
Economics
Victoria University of Wellington (NZL)

Prof. Dr. Ezra Friedman
Law
Northwestern University (USA)

Prof. Dr. Alberto Galasso
Management
University of Toronto (CAN)

Sen. Asst. Prof. Dr. Alice Guerra
Management
University of Bologna (ITA)

Prof. Dr. Richard Hartl
Management
University of Vienna (AUT)

Dr. Volker Hartmann
Independent Lawyer and
Head of Quality ADAS/AD at Volkswagen Car Software Org (GER)

Prof. Dr. Dominik Herrmann
Computer Science
University of Bamberg (GER)

Prof. Dr. Nick Huberts
Economics
University of York (GBR)

J.-Prof. Dr. Roberto Ippoliti
Economics
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Ruth Janal
Law
University of Bayreuth (GER)

Prof. Dr. Michael Kopel
Management
University of Graz (AUT)

Prof. Dr. Peter Kort
Economics
Tilburg University (NLD)

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kramer
Computer Science
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (GER)

Dr. Miltiadis Kyriakidis
Engineering
Paul Scherrer Institute (SUI)

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Maria Lavrutich
Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Dr. Michael Löffler
Vice President Sales and Strategy
Porsche AG (GER)

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hong Luo
Management
Harvard Business School (USA)

Asst. Prof. Dr. Sarah Mansour
Economics
Cairo University (EGY)

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marie Obidzinski
Economics
Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas (FRA)

Dr. Adekemi Omotubora
Law
University of Lagos (NGA)

Andreas Pietryga
Economics
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Timo Rademacher
Law
Leibniz University Hannover (GER)

Prof. Dr. Georg Ringe
Law
University of Hamburg (GER)

Prof. Dr. Andreas Roider
Economics
University of Regensburg (GER)

Prof. Dr. Juha Röning
Computer Science and Engineering
University of Oulu (FIN)

Dr. Klaus Schartel
Legal Aspects of Autonomous Driving
General Counsel TRATON SE (GER)

Melina Schleef
Management
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Paul T. Schrader
Law
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Urs Schweizer
Economics
University of Bonn (GER)

Prof. Dr. Steven Shavell
Law and Economics
Harvard University (USA)

Emily Silverman, J.D. (Berkeley Law), LL.M.
Law
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law (GER)

Prof. Dr. Judith Simon
Computer Science and Philosophy
University of Hamburg (GER)

Prof. Dr. Tobias Singelnstein
Law
Ruhr University of Bochum (GER)

Prof. Dr. Kathryn E. Spier
Law and Economics
Harvard University (USA)

Prof. Dr. Christian Stummer
Management
Bielefeld University (GER)

Prof. Dr. Avraham Tabbach
Law and Economics
Tel Aviv University (ISR)

Prof. Dr. Eric Talley
Law and Economics
Columbia University (USA)

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Wagner
Law
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (GER)

Prof. Dr. Franziska Weber
Law and Economics
Erasmus School of Law (NLD)

Prof. Dr. Thomas Weigend
Law
University of Cologne (GER)

Prof. Dr.Thomas Wischmeyer
Law
Bielefeld University (GER)

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