Written by Josh Lee and Aileen Schultz (Founder, World Legal Summit)
The World Legal Summit (WLS) is a 30+ city, 20+ country initiative designed to bridge the gap between legislative understanding and emerging technologies. Part One will occur in physical locations simultaneously across a 24 hour window on August 1, while Part Two will occur between September 6 to 8. The WLS will also provide global networking and remote participation opportunities in a virtual world.
Technology and global systems are evolving at unprecedented rates, with humanity now poised at the tip of the exponential curve of technological evolution. There is, however, a lack of incentives to create required legislative and regulatory frameworks for the proper governance and responsible use of such technologies. Further, legal advances in technology governance – typically developed in silos – are not keeping pace with the development of technology. In turn, this creates a governance and trust deficit between emerging technologies, their associated global systems, and the necessary frameworks for a globally sustainable future.
While the legal industry has seen global initiatives to drive technology in legal practice (such as through global events such as the Global Legal Hackathon), the World Legal Summit (“WLS”) tackles the converse challenge of legal and regulatory issues relating to new technology. It is primarily focused on emerging technologies that are global in nature and that are facing complex regulatory challenges. In its inaugural year, the WLS will be focusing on the following three technology categories:
- Identity and Personal Governance;
- Autonomous Machines; and
- Cyber Security and Personal Data.
Informing and Taking Action – The design of the WLS
The WLS is designed to provide a platform that will: (a) co-create understanding; and (b) collaboratively effect change for the three technology categories identified above.
To do this, the format of the WLS is that of a de-centralised, two-part global conversation happening simultaneously in multiple locations around the world. As a de-centralised conversation, the WLS will see participating jurisdictions across six continents – namely, North and South America, Africa, Australia, Europe, and Asia.
Further, the two-part format of the WLS will allow both research and insights to be gathered, and thereafter translate the insights gained into relevant technologies. In particular, Part One (happening on 1 August) will focus on research and insight-gathering (with each host jurisdiction having leading panellists speak on the three identified technology categories), while Part Two (6 to 8 September) will focus on creating an environment in which technologists can place the insights gained from Part One into action (through the further development of their technologies).
In addition, the WLS aims to publish global research and insights from Part One. Thereafter, in Part Two, the WLS will identify specific organisations working on projects with positive global impact, and provide these organisations with the opportunity to secure legal services from the Lex Mundi global network of law firms.
In this regard, the WLS has been joined by a diverse range of participating organisations. These include law firms, universities, innovation hubs, governments, associations, and companies. Among these, notable organisations include the likes of Deloitte, Allen & Overy, the Nigerian Ministry of Justice, Gowlings, HiiL, the Singapore Management University, and the Singapore Academy of Law. It is also expected that the attending participants will be equally diverse, with policymakers and government officials, legal professionals, academics, technologists, futurists, and global changemakers expected to attend.
The role of the WLS in Asia
The need for legislative and regulatory frameworks is acute in the Asian region. Technology is and will continue to be a unique driving force for change in Asia. For instance, the European Centre for International Political Economy (“ECIPE”) identified the following three particular technological strengths of the Asia-Pacific region:
- A young and tech-savvy population that is supporting rapid digitisation. For instance, Asia’s youth are driving an e-commerce market that is growing twice as fast as in the Europe and the US;
- A “mobile-first” culture is driving fast growth in online content, and a world-class community of app developers. The Asia-Pacific already represents more than half of the global mobile population, with its share still rising; and
- Strong economic growth attracting digital investors and innovators to the region.
The advancement of technology in this region, however, presents complex regulatory challenges unique to Asia both in terms of the speed of its advancement as well as the unique societal contexts in different parts of this vast region. In this regard, the ECIPE also provided two significant suggestions to support the technology and digital economy in the region:
- There is a need for policies to keep the Asia-Pacific open to the world economy, and to increase the space for digital innovation and entrepreneurship in all sectors. This will deepen the region’s technology-enabled economic boost.
- There is also a need for policies that can keep up with the speed of digital innovation, and that will cut the time for regulatory and market adjustment. This will maximise technology’s positive impact on growth, choice, and equality.
With this context in mind, it is apposite that Singapore has been chosen as the sole host jurisdiction for Asia. Singapore has positioned itself as a hub for innovation for research and development in Asia, with a conducive environment for innovation for both incumbents and start-ups. Geographically, Singapore’s location also makes it an ideal location for technology innovation, as it is sited at the crossroads of three of the world’s most dynamic economies (China, India and Southeast Asia). Its government, which aims to develop Singapore into a Smart Nation, has also supported technological innovation through economic incentives and good governance, while being alive to the regulatory needs brought by the onset of new technologies.
The Singapore leg of the WLS is jointly organised by the Singapore Academy of Law and the Singapore Management University’s Centre for AI and Data Governance, and is jointly supported by LexisNexis and LawTech.Asia. As Paul Neo, Chief Operating Officer of the Singapore Academy of Law, puts it:
Just as fire needs to be controlled to be a force for good, new technologies – as promising as they are – will only have their potential maximised if there are good regulatory frameworks that provide a common basis for people to use them for our common good. The World Legal Summit is a great platform to gather like-minded people in search of such regulatory frameworks, and is a timely reminder that as we live in this fast-transforming world, our laws, regulations and mindsets must strive to keep pace with the times too.
The virtual WLS – an innovative approach to global regulatory discussions
The WLS is committed to facilitating a de-centralised global dialogue on law and new technologies. To this end, the WLS has partnered with virtual co-working firm VirBELA to provide the VirBELA Open Campus, an online virtual world that complements the physical sessions of the WLS. The Open Campus will provide an environment in which participants in disparate jurisdictions can interact in a digital meeting space mimicking a real world environment. Akin to a video game, participants will be able to virtually “walk” around the Open Campus, and interact with peers around the globe. This will also allow participants who do not have easy access to a physical location of the WLS to view ongoing discussions through web-streaming in virtual rooms showcasing the happenings in their respective physical locations.
The WLS promises to be an innovative and groundbreaking initiative to create new regulatory paradigms for the future. If you are passionate to contribute to these regulatory conversations, head to your nearest WLS location now, or simply sign on to the WLS’ Open Campus.
This article was co-written by Aileen Schultz, the founder of the World Legal Summit, as well as Josh Lee, the Asia Ambassador for the World Legal Summit and the Co-Founder of LawTech.Asia.
If you wish to support global impact through the WLS, you may do it through firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to learn more about the WLS and request an invite to your nearest event location, visit worldlegalsummit.org.