The Lab will generate significant positive outcomes across a range of key areas.

The Lab will be an independent institution set up to foster collaboration between people in physical and digital settings. The Lab will receive suggested case studies from people with real problems and real opportunities.

Graph showing impact

Digital systems are increasingly pervasive and have wide-reaching implications for our lives. They perform tasks with significant consequences in complex legal environments. There have been a succession of government and private sector reports calling for a centre of excellence in New Zealand focused on the transparent development and use of algorithmic systems. This coincides with global attention to the need for developing ethical and responsible AI systems.

A range of public commentators are calling for a transition for New Zealand away from primary industries exports, and toward digital weightless exports. There has been a growing demand to use automated systems along with a parallel increase in suspicion of them. The topic of “law and code” has a long history, but it is finding fertile new ground in a changed society. New Zealand is going to be left behind unless it moves now.

Governance, government & legal:

  • Create tools that contribute toward improved access to justice and access to law
  • Create tools that improve access to government services
  • Better design government services for digital implementation
  • Safely increase the automation of government service delivery
  • Enhance the design of regulatory systems to reduce the difficulty of creating digital systems for implementation
  • Enhance personnel insights into the effective design of automated decision-making systems and the risks and opportunities of such systems
  • For legal and policy professionals, enhance understanding of digital systems
  • For programmers and computer scientists, enhance understanding of legal and policy systems
  • Provide a tangible mechanism for community input into the design of digital systems
  • Where digital legal systems are being used for operational purposes, they may be subject to litigation or dispute mechanisms. When systems are designed through the lab, it will be possible to demonstrate their safety, legality and reliability in courts and tribunals
  • The rules as code movement calls for the creation of machine-executable translations of legal rule sets so they can be used in software systems. By locating this work in the lab, and publishing findings and processes, the lab can work toward best practice guidelines for this work.


  • Enhance access to government services by:
    • Enhancing regulatory systems for digital implementation
    • Enhancing capability for designing safe and effective digital systems for regulatory implementation
    • Enhancing public trust and confidence in the use of digital systems for regulatory purpose
  • Enhance public education and public trust and confidence in digital/legal systems
  • Produce better regulation that is more conceptually consistent and logically coherent, reducing the burden of compliance with regulatory systems Upskilling New Zealand’s population
  • Create opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, enabling people to better participate in New Zealand’s transition to a digital economy
  • Improve the design of policy systems, including by designing policy systems in ways that incorporate the use of digital metrics for measuring policy system performance
  • Provide a place for recording public interest projects that interested parties can contribute to voluntarily, or by seeking philanthropic or commercial funding to work on those projects

Research & development:

  • Create opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation, further goals similar to those fostered by the Callaghan Innovation system
  • Create opportunities for international collaboration among tertiary institutions and research institutions
  • Attract talented people and digital workers from overseas through opportunities for career advancement and skill development in novel areas
  • Create exciting opportunities for students and others to learn more about the creation of digital systems in regulatory contexts
  • Incorporate digital literacy and education into humanities courses, and superior incorporation of humanities topics into computer science and programming courses
  • Give people from different disciplines and backgrounds better experience working together as a team


  • Create opportunities for digital products and services, including for export to trade partners
  • Provide tangible projects for upskilling workers for a digital economy
  • Foster development of the growing RegTech and Fintech industries
  • Reduce the compliance burden on businesses and individuals generating economic activity by creating digital systems and the capability for building them
  • Enhance the quality of regulatory regimes to make digital compliance easier and more reliable
  • Publish machine-executable rule sets in appropriate contexts to enable businesses to incorporate these into software systems and reduce the translation burden
  • Foster opportunities for the founding of new companies and businesses