Karen’s research expertise lies in the regulation and governance of, and through, new and emerging technologies. Her work has been at the forefront of nurturing ‘law, regulation and technology’ as a sub-field of legal and interdisciplinary scholarship.
Karen’s recent and on-going work focuses on the legal, ethical, social and democratic implications of a suite of technologies associated with automation and the ‘computational turn’, including big data analytics, artificial intelligence (including various forms of machine learning), distributed ledger technologies (including blockchain) and robotics. The overarching aim of her research is to enrich our understanding of the capacity and potential of these technologies to inform decision-making and to influence and co-ordinate individual and collective behaviour across a wide range of policy domains through the broad lenses of ‘Algorithmic Regulation’ and ‘Algorithmic Accountability’. She is currently undertaking series of inquiries which, taken together, seek to explore their implications for normative values associated with liberal constitutional democracies, including:
- democracy and democratic governance, including the need for public participation in their design, construction and implementation, and the value weightings and trade-offs that are hard-wired into system development and operation;
- constitutional values, including transparency, accountability, due process, proportionality and the rule of law;
- individual rights, freedom, autonomy and human dignity;
- equality, community, social solidarity and distributive justice; and
- the allocation of decision-making authority, responsibility and liability between humans and machines.
In pursuing these aims, Karen draw upon a broad range of disciplinary perspectives from the humanities, social sciences (and increasingly, the computer sciences), including law, applied ethics (professional ethics, bioethics, information ethics, machine ethics and robot ethics), political theory, political science, regulatory governance studies, the philosophy of technology, the sociology of science (including STS and innovation studies) and criminology. Her most recent work has involved collaborations with AI researchers and data and computer scientists and she has recently been awarded a Wellcome Trust Seed Award in the Social Sciences to lead an interdisciplinary project which seeks to map the legal, ethical, technical and governance challenges associated with regulating healthcare through blockchain.