Workshop: Beyond Boundaries: Persons, (Bio)Technologies, & the Law

From October 2nd to 3rd, I had the privilege of participating in the workshop “Beyond Boundaries: Persons, (Bio)Technologies, & the Law” in Wales, organized as part of the ‘Everyday Cyborgs 2.0: Law’s Boundary Work and Alternative Legal Futures‘ project and the ‘Hybrid Minds‘ project, coordinated by Dr. Joseph Roberts.

The purpose of this workshop was to explore the increasingly blurred boundaries between bodies, minds, persons, things, and the world at large due to the influence of bio- and neurotechnologies. While sociology and feminism have long questioned why bodies should be confined by the skin, and philosophy has deliberated the Extended Mind Thesis for two decades, the legal domain still predominantly relies on maintaining a separation between these entities. This necessitates legal boundary work, as it must be determined for each entity whether it falls under the category of the body, property, intellectual property, or perhaps something else.

The workshop was structured to explore how the law can effectively address the challenges related to boundaries, encompassing both the subjects and objects of the law, as well as the structure and application of legal principles. It convened scholars from a wide array of disciplines and legal backgrounds, nurturing discussions about our shared interests and areas of agreement while also fostering the potential for future collaborations. Key themes examined during the workshop included the necessity of traditional boundaries in the legal sphere, their implications across various legal domains, the methods and locations for setting these boundaries (if deemed necessary), and the flexibility and context-specific nature of categorization. Additionally, the workshop contemplated the potential outcomes of erasing conventional boundaries and pondered the requirement for innovative legal categories. Furthermore, it delved into genuine legal issues and urgent ethical concerns, with a focus on identifying practical legal solutions for the theoretical challenges under scrutiny.

The workshop was divided into several enlightening sessions:

Session 1 – Blurring the Boundaries I: Persons & Things This session delved into the intricate connections between persons and things, examining the evolving nature of these relationships in the age of emerging technologies.

Session 2 – Blurring the Boundaries II: Minds, Bodies, & Things Here, discussions centered on the interplay between minds, bodies, and things, shedding light on the evolving landscape of our understanding of these fundamental elements.

Session 3 – Transforming Persons & Bodies in the Digital Age This session explored the transformations that individuals and bodies undergo in the digital age, offering fresh insights into the complex dynamics at play.

Session 4 – Regulating Around & Across Boundaries Regulatory aspects around and across boundaries were scrutinized in this session, highlighting the challenges and opportunities in creating effective legal frameworks.

Session 5 – Beyond Bodies & Things The final session invited participants to contemplate the possibilities that exist beyond conventional notions of bodies and things, pushing the boundaries of imagination.

In this enriching environment, I had the privilege of presenting my talk on “Socio-Bio-Technical Constellations in Cyborg Action,” and I’m incredibly grateful for the numerous insights, stimulating conversations, and the remarkable interdisciplinary exploration of the cyborg theme.

Photo (c) by Christoph Bublitz

I would extend my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Joseph Roberts and the dedicated teams behind “Everyday Cyborgs 2.0” and “Hybrid Minds” for their exceptional organization, which made this workshop an intellectually rewarding and memorable experience. The opportunity to connect with fellow scholars, exchange ideas, and ponder the legal and ethical implications of our rapidly changing world was truly invaluable. I look forward to future collaborations and the continued exploration of boundary-defying concepts in the ever-evolving field of law and technology.

Thank you to everyone who made this workshop a resounding success…

The program can be found here:

The full report of the workshop can be found here.