The University of Gdańsk, as the first university in Poland, has established a unit specialising in and focusing on normative phenomena - the 'New Technologies Law Centre'. It will operate at the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Gdansk and conduct, under the management of dr hab. Jakub Szlachetko, research, implementation, educational and popularisation activities.
Elżbieta Michalak-Witkowska: - How should 'new technologies' be understood? In what areas will the newly established centre operate, and what area of the law's scope (or direction of law development) are we talking about here?
Dr hab. Jakub Szlachetko: - This is a very good question because the adjective 'new' is vague and relative. But perhaps that is its strength, as it exposes what is current, current - and future - in technologies. This is, of course, only my speculation, as there are various definitions of 'new technology law' in the literature, including 'new technologies'. However, I will not cite them.
The logic of the Centre will be as follows. Once the team is formed, looking for 'common denominators', we will choose a few research directions - and build projects around them. So I am not limiting myself in advance to a particular or specific sector of the economy, although naturally, the IT/ICT sector seems key. However, I am assuming flexibility of action. So far, I have dealt with 'space' issues - space policy and space law, also in the context of the 'smart-city', so I will first try to look for partnerships in the space sector - strong in the Tricity. But - as I mentioned - rather the method of operation will be like this: from research direction to project, to economic sectors.
- Are these types of units something common at Polish universities?
- Of course, the subject of new technologies is dealt with by representatives of various scientific disciplines - both from the humanities, social sciences and engineering and technical sciences, which is reflected in the structures of universities or departments. Thus, there are 'new technology centres', but primarily with engineering-technical profiles. The Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Gdańsk, on the other hand, is the first university to establish a specialised unit focused on normative phenomena - let me remind you that we are talking about the 'New Technology Law Centre'. In this sense, the UG WPiA is a forerunner.
- What will the New Technologies Law Centre deal with? What will be the subject of research?
- According to the Regulations, the Centre will conduct research, implementation, educational and popularisation activities. So, as you can see, the university authorities have set the Centre several equivalent objectives.
- What is your vision for the development of the NTLC as head of this unit?
- I would very much like the New Technologies Law Centre to be a 'horizontal structure', which would drive a wedge into the siloed structure of a department or university, and thus be able to undertake initiatives that integrate the staff of various departments and units, including PhD students and undergraduates. After all, the Centre's research issues transcend the artificial boundaries of the disciplines and fields in which we operate daily - due to the legislation in force. I therefore very much hope that an interdisciplinary research team can be created at the Centre, focusing on a few selected issues. I am under no illusion that there is no chance of facing the totality of research problems occurring in the area of new technology law. Preliminary analyses and discussions indicate that we will develop such lines of research as (1) the impact of technology on the organisation and functioning of the state and local self-government, as well as on human rights, (2) the legal subjectivity of virtual beings (entities), (3) the automatic issuance of court rulings and administrative decisions. But these are tentative forethoughts, so let's not put a full stop yet. Within the framework of these directions, various initiatives will be undertaken - research, teaching and organisational. I also hope to cooperate with the university environment, especially the innovative sectors.