Dr Nessa Lynch joins UCC as Matheson lecturer in law, innovation and technology

Dr Nessa Lynch joins UCC as Matheson lecturer in law, innovation and technology

Pictured: Dr Nessa Lynch, the Matheson lecturer in law, innovation and technology at University College Cork.

Artificial intelligence and facial recognition expert Dr Nessa Lynch has joined University College Cork (UCC) as the Matheson lecturer in law, innovation and technology.

Based at the School of Law, the lectureship will enhance expertise in law and technology at the university.

Dr Lynch will undertake and supervise interdisciplinary research in areas of high societal interest such as facial recognition technology, the use of AI in the courts and legal practice, children’s rights and emerging technologies, and the implementation of the new European Union AI regulations.

She returns to an academic role from a senior leadership role at New Zealand Police, and prior to that was an associate professor at the Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where she researched and taught in criminal law and justice, youth justice and law and emerging technologies.

Her work on biometrics, particularly facial recognition technology, is globally recognised, and has had a significant influence on law, policy, and practice. She combines her background in children’s human rights to consider the impact of technology on children and youth.

Dr Lynch has a strong interest in the translation of research to policy and she has provided expert advice for a range of international, public sector and private sector organisations.

A UCC alumnus, Dr Lynch graduated with a BCL in 2003 and an LLM in 2004.

Earlier this week, she told an Oireachtas committee that “Ireland has an opportunity to provide a robust legislative framework for the use of retrospective facial recognition technology in policing, which would be novel in the global context. This technology can potentially be used in a human rights compliant way, but this requires extensive controls and clear parameters, with independent and community oversight.”

Speaking about her appointment, Dr Lynch said: “I am looking forward to returning to the School of Law and to UCC with global experience in law, policy, and practice. It is an exciting time for emerging technology and law, with my areas of expertise such as facial recognition technology being prominent in public discourse in Ireland at present.

“I’m grateful to Matheson for their support and the opportunities which the partnership will open for my work and my students’ work. UCC offers much potential for interdisciplinary work, particularly through the UCC Futures programme.”

Professor Mark Poustie, Dean of the School of Law, said: “The School of Law is very grateful to Matheson for their generous sponsorship of this transformational Lectureship in Law, Innovation and Technology and associated PhD scholarship. This will provide much needed and mutually beneficial capacity to explore the legal implications of AI and disruptive technologies, for example, in terms of regulation and impact on the legal profession.

“Dr Nessa Lynch will undoubtedly make a very significant impact in terms of research, curriculum development and teaching and public engagement in the field of law, innovation and technology. The School now looks forward to commencing the recruitment process for the Matheson PhD scholarship which will be launched following Dr Lynch’s arrival.”

Michael Jackson, managing partner at Matheson, said: “We congratulate Dr Lynch on her appointment by UCC as the Matheson lecturer in law, innovation and technology. We look forward to liaising with her in her new role and to collaborating with her and her colleagues as we expand this partnership with UCC.

“At Matheson, we are committed to our core value of innovation, demonstrated through our long and continuing history of advising some of the world’s largest technology companies on Irish legal issues.

“As the digital economy evolves at an ever-increasing pace, and as businesses embrace new technologies and regulatory challenges, Matheson is committed to ensuring that we continue to bring our clients the most up-to-date thinking and research and to provide a forum for the sharing of ideas and discussion.

“In that regard, our Digital Economy Group — a cross-functional team drawn from specialists within our market-leading departments across the firm – continues to support our clients in navigating the complexities of the digital landscape today.

“This new lectureship reflects another aspect of our commitment to advancing this understanding and analysis, and we look forward to seeing the impact it will have in this field.”

The new appointment comes as part of the UCC and Matheson Innovation Partnership, a five-year collaboration launched in 2023 which will enhance the culture of innovation at UCC through a series of lectures and collaborative events.

Matheson’s support also includes a scholarship which will support a PhD student as they conduct research in law, innovation and technology.

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