Hate shopping? The next generation of e-commerce will be conducted by digital agents, based on algorithms that will not only make purchase recommendations, but will also predict what we want, make purchase decisions, negotiate and execute the transaction for the consumers, and even automatically form coalitions of buyers to enjoy better terms, thereby replacing human decision-making. Algorithmic consumers have the potential to change dramatically the way we conduct business, raising new conceptual and regulatory challenges.
This game-changing technological development has significant implications for regulation, which should be adjusted to a reality of consumers making their purchase decisions via algorithms. Despite this challenge, scholarship addressing commercial algorithms focused primarily on the use of algorithms by suppliers. In this presentation we explore the technological advances which are shaping algorithmic consumers, and analyze how these advances affect the competitive dynamic in the market. We analyze the implications of such technological advances on regulation, identifying three main challenges. We further discuss some of the challenges to human autonomous choice that arise from these developments, and examine whether the existing legal framework is adequate to address them.
Michal Gal (LL.B., LL.M., S.J.D.) is Professor and Director of the Forum on Law and Markets at the Faculty of Law, University of Haifa, Israel. She was a Visiting Professor at NYU, Columbia, Georgetown, Melbourne and Lisbon. Prof. Gal is the author of several books, including Competition Policy for Small Market Economies (Harvard University Press, 2003). She also published scholarly articles on competition law issues and has won prizes for her research and for her teaching. Inter alia, she was chosen as one of the ten most promising young legal scholars in Israel (Globes, 2007) and as one of the leading women in competition law around the world (Global Competition Review). Her paper, "Merger Policy for Small and Micro Economies", won the Antitrust Writings Award for best paper on merger policy in 2013, and her paper on "Access to Big Data" (with Daniel Rubinfeld) is short-listed for this year's prize. Prof. Gal is the President of the International Academic Society for Competition Law Scholars (ASCOLA). She served as a consultant to several international organizations (including OECD, UNCTAD) on issues of competition law and was a non-governmental advisor of the International Competition Network (ICN). She also advised several small economies and regiional organizations on the framing of their competition laws. She is a board member of several international antitrust organizations, including the American Antitrust Institute (AAI), The Antitrust Consumer Institute, the Asian Competition Law and Economics Center (ACLEC). She clerked at the Israeli Supreme Court, and her work is often cited in the decisions of the Court on competition matters.
Niva Elkin-Koren is a Visiting Professor of Law at HLS, where she teaches Digital Copyright, and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center . She is the founding director of the Haifa Center for Law & Technology (HCLT) and the former dean of the University of Haifa, Faculty of Law. Her research focuses on the legal institutions that facilitate private and public control over the production and dissemination of knowledge. She has written and spoken extensively about digital governance, legal oversight of algorithmic decision-making, liability of online intermediaries, the privatization of information policy, private ordering, the economic analysis of intellectual property, and legal strategies for enhancing the public domain. She is the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council, of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin, a member of the Executive Committee of Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property (ATRIP), and an Advisory Board Member in the Information Program of the Open Society Foundation. She is also a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of the Copyright Society (since 2009) the Journal of Information Policy (since 2010) and the Internet Policy Review (since 2016). Prof. Elkin-Koren received her LL.B from Tel-Aviv University Faculty of Law in 1989, her LL.M from Harvard Law School in 1991, and her S.J.D from Stanford Law School in 1995.