Every day I wake up realizing that I have been lucky. Born in the Netherlands in 1945, I have reached a respectable age without having to defend myself against war, poverty, genocide, pandemics. And in the past 55 years I have had the opportunity to gain and disseminate knowledge about how law and the information society have in fact co-evolved and continued to grow.

After discovering humans as their favorite hosts, COVID-19 has reminded us within four months of how crucial jurisdictions are for defense against complex, networked, adaptive and cross-border risks. Institutions also have jurisdictions that must arm them against these risks.

They raise new questions, often with a mixture of legal, economic, technical and moral aspects. Who, for example, should be held responsible for the situation in which a doctor has to choose between two patients due to a lack of capacity, resulting in the death of the other? The doctor? The NHS? The health insurer? Politics? The patient? Who ignores the one-and-a-half meter rule? Science? Nobody?

We have entered a world in which we need to rediscover some of the answers about law and legal certainty, both large and small. This realization has caught on with experts from different disciplines who have focused on designing and combining formal models such as Euler’s method, Bayesian probability and its Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, small-world network theories and agent -based modeling. But there is a problem here. These methods have been developed by and for specialists who generally freely contradict each other at the most unexpected moments when it comes to application.

In my experience, the application of the thoughts baked into those formal theories can very well be translated into understandable language and understandable mechanisms – which, however, quickly interlock so that it becomes useful to digitally mimic their operations and to study these from different starting positions.

It has also been my experience that it can be valuable for clients to think and spar about how their intentions will work out through the conversion of their plans into mechanisms of which a simple PC can show how they work out under different conditions.

Such sparring and conversion I call think-tank services. Through and with SCHMDT advocatuur I am open to participate in projects that face the strategic questions of today with the help of think-tank services. I give a few examples of projects to which we (could) have made a sensible contribution:

  • Developing and implementing hybrid (partly online, partly offline) business models for educational and cultural institutions, as well as for the SMEs and for collaborating professionals. I gave a picture of the underlying logic in two presentations, in October (in Dutch) and November
  • KEI is the digitization project of the Dutch Council for the Judiciary that failed miserably in April 2018 (I used it as an example in a fairly technical article that I wrote with a Chinese colleague).
  • e-CODEX is the ambitious project launched by the EU in 2010 with the aim of creating a service that supports cross-border legal-professional data exchange. The service exists, but its use is lagging. In 2018 I wrote a treatise on this, which also shows some of the underlying aspects of our approach.

I provide my think-tank services together with SCHMDT advocatuur. Assignments are negotiated, taking into account how they fit into the entire project and discussing whether further use will be made of our network (whereby our relationships with professionals in Austria and China may have special added value).