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Past Project

Law Lab

The Law Lab is a multidisciplinary research initiative and collaborative network of University, nonprofit and industry partners. Its mission is to investigate and harness the varied forces — evolutionary, social, psychological, neurological and economic — that shape the role of law and social norms as they enable cooperation, governance and entrepreneurial innovation. Through open observational and experimental web-based platforms and open source software, the Law Lab will develop new digital institutions to foster innovation and research tools to deepen our understanding of trust, transparency and human cooperation. We will bring a laboratory approach to legal scholarship and social science research, and build a body of knowledge, expertise and software technologies that will fundamentally transform law and entrepreneurial practice.

The Law Lab is a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and is generously supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.


Our Work 24

Dec 17, 2010

The Law Lab launches a prototype of their Digital Law Library wiki

This effort is focused on cataloging and analyzing Senegalese and other West African law and putting it online in a searchable and easily accessible format.

Jul 29, 2010

Radio Berkman 160: Business, Meet Web

This week on Radio Berkman: Berkman fellow and Law Lab co-director Oliver Goodenough speaks with Zeba Kahn about Vermont's virtual business laws...

May 7, 2010

Towards Principles and Best Practices for Operating in the Cloud

new Berkman Center initiative underway

Today, in conjunction with our Law Lab project, the Berkman Center is kicking off a new research initiative on cloud computing with the first in a year-long series of workshops…

Apr 8, 2010

Radio Berkman 148: Lies, Damned Lies, and Technology

This week on Radio Berkman: Judith Donath interviews Jeff Hancock, of the Social Media Lab at Cornell University, on how we lie, and the role technology plays in the evolution of…

Apr 5, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Old Habits Die Hard: Can Technology Change Deception?

Jeff Hancock, Cornell University

In this talk, Jeff will consider some of the myths commonly held about deception, and use the intersection of technology and deception to surface and rethink our assumptions about…

Mar 22, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Transforming the Last Mile State

How Vermont can leapfrog a technology generation and lead the nation in connectivity, transparency and innovation.

Matt Dunne, former State Senator, Head of Community Affairs for Google and current candidate for Vermont Governor will share his vision for Vermont becoming the first truly 21st…

Mar 11, 2010

Radio Berkman 146: The Early Days of the Avatar

This week on Radio Berkman: Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab sits down with Judith Donath...

Mar 8, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

The hierarchy of virtue: mutualism, altruism, and signaling in Martu women’s cooperative hunting

Rebecca Bliege Bird, Stanford University

Rebecca Bliege Bird will discuss the question "Why do Martu women hunt cooperatively when they don't seem to benefit economically from doing so?" and suggests that demonstrating a…

Feb 22, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Whither Blind Justice? Effects of Physiognomy on Judicial Decisions

Leslie Zebrowitz, Brandeis University

Research shows that peoples’ facial appearance influences impressions of their honesty and judgments of their culpability, effects that have been shown to bias decisions in the…

Feb 8, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Signaling Theory and the Evolution of Religion

Richard Sosis, director of the Evolution, Cognition, and Culture Program at the University of Connecticut

Researchers from diverse disciplines have suggested that rituals and other religious behaviors serve as signals of an individual's commitment to a religious group, and some have…

Jan 25, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Transformed Social Interaction in Virtual Reality

Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab and an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford

In this talk, Jeremy will describe a series of projects that explore the manners in which avatars (representations of people in virtual environments) qualitatively change the…

Jan 11, 2010 @ 12:30 PM

Brain Bases of Deception: Why We Probably Will Never Have a Perfect Lie Detector

Stephen M. Kosslyn, Dean of Social Science and John Lindsley Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Associate Psychologist in the Department of Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital

Different brain systems are used when one produces lies in different ways, such as by fabricating lies spontaneously "on the fly" versus fabricating them on the basis of a…

Nov 30, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

The Social Efficiency of Fairness

Marshall Van Alstyne, Associate Professor at Boston University and Research Scientist at MIT

Property rights provide incentives to create information but they also provide incentives to hoard it prior to the award of protection. Marshall Van Alstyne will propose a…

Nov 17, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Kudunomics: Information and Property Rights in the Weightless Economy

Sam Bowles, Santa Fe Institute, Behavioral Sciences Program

Sam Bowles will discuss how an evolutionary model and computer simulations will show how systems of property rights might respond to the challenges of the weightless economy.

Nov 16, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Big Data, Global Development, and Complex Social Systems

Nathan Eagle, Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute

Petabytes of data about human movements, transactions, and communication patterns are continuously being generated by everyday technologies such as mobile phones and credit cards…

Oct 6, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Cloud Law, Finance 3.0, and Digital Institutions: A Report from the Berkman Center's Law Lab

John Clippinger, Urs Gasser, and Oliver Goodenough

The Berkman Center Law Lab is a project devoted to investigating and harness the varied forces — evolutionary, social, psychological, neurological and economic — that shape the…

Jul 7, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

HIT me baby one more time, Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love Amazon Mechanical Turk

Aaron Shaw, Berkman Center Fellow

Aaron Shaw will discuss who's using Amazon's Mechanical Turk, its implications for social scientists, the future of labor markets, and life on the Internet as we know it.

Jun 3, 2009

Radio Berkman 124: What the Heck is a Commons?

This week on Radio Berkman: David Bollier, author of "Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own," discusses the idea of a commons, and more, with David…

May 13, 2009

Radio Berkman: Law + Technology = Fewer Lawyers?

This week on Radio Berkman: Richard Susskind discusses how technology might improve the practice of law, and more, with Brock Rutter...

May 12, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

How Shall the Commons Be Governed? New Challenges Facing the Digital Commons Sector

David Bollier, Author of "Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own"

David Bollier will discuss the rise of the commons paradigm in the digital environment, the subject of his new book, "Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of…

Apr 22, 2009

Radio Berkman: My Own Private Infrastructure

This week on Radio Berkman: Dan Jones hears from Gillian K Hadfield about the possibilities for the private production of legal systems...

Apr 22, 2009 @ 12:15 PM

The End of Lawyers? The End of Law Schools?

Professor Richard Susskind, Author of "The End of Lawyers?" and IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England

Professor Richard Susskind predicts that the legal profession will be driven by two forces in the coming decade: by a market pull towards the commoditization of legal services,…

Apr 13, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

Law for a Flat World: Building Legal Infrastructure for the New Economy

Gillian K Hadfield of USC

Gillian K Hadfield on how and why our legal infrastructure is outdated and ill-suited to the new economy, looking mostly to the non-market or protected-market mechanisms on which…

Feb 25, 2009 @ 12:30 PM

The "Internet" of the developing world: using GSM networks to secure information

Ashifi Gogo, Dartmouth College

Ashifi Gogo will discuss the growing demand for information services on GSM and the innovative services being developed around mobile phones in the developing world.