As a lawyer with civil law background, Tugba Basaran-Akmazoglu says she found herself in foreign waters when she started her Ph.D. at uOttawa in a common law country. Yet identifying herself as a philomath always after knowledge interesting to her, seeing the life as an act of making one’s unique puzzle, consisting of different colors, tastes, voyages and memories, she eagerly accepted the challenge. Her research is related to the legal regulation of neurotechnologies, the changing boundaries of human body along with the progressively evolving smart prostheses. “As emerging technologies merge with humans, and enhancement and treatment possibilities expand, inorganic elements are increasingly patched and integrated into organic bodies. On top of this, artificial intelligence is now collaborating with human intelligence in mind-controlled robotic limbs, advanced exoskeletons and so on.” says Tugba with enthusiasm that can be read through her body language. “I want to be a one of the persons, who are shaping the future ethical, legal, and social policies for mankind in the wake of the novel technologies and emerging human-technology interaction and even symbiosis.” Her research is supervised by Prof. Jennifer A. Chandler. “Prof. Chandler is more than a supervisor to me; she is my mentor. I take heed of, value and cherish her directions and guidance, which never fail.” Tugba tells that she feels blessed to have her as Ph.D. supervisor also since their research interests opportunely overlap. Tugba’s research was set to be co-supervised by Prof. Ian Kerr, the prominent name in the field of law of robotics. Sadly, the legal world, the academy lost this treasured person and kind soul. Deeply grieved, Tugba says she will dedicate her Ph.D. dissertation to his name.
Prof. Chandler is leading an international consortium funded by a 3-year ERA-NET grant, investigating the ethical-legal implications of AI-based neuroprostheses in the project entitled, “Hybrid Minds: Experiential, ethical and legal investigation of intelligent neuroprostheses”. Tugba says she is proud to be a part of this gigantic project as well and already quite excited about the impact of the project outputs on science and society, and policy-making efforts.
Tugba received her LL.M. degrees at KU Leuven (with specialization in European Union Law and as a recipient of the Jean Monnet Fellowship of the European Commission), and at the University of Oslo and Leibniz University of Hannover (double degree LL.M within the framework of the European Legal Informatics Study Program in IT Law) and wrote her thesis on regulation of civil law liability of autonomous service robots. She finds studying, contemplating and musing on the regulation of the unknown, the new and emergent, as challenging but rewarding. “I am thrilled to be living in this era so that I can witness the digital, robotic revolution and evolution, and human augmentation possibilities in my life time. As a lawyer and academic, I find it quite fulfilling to be researching on how to shape the future legal landscape.”