Ciarán O'Kelly

Ciarán O'Kelly

Senior Lecturer, School of Law

Queen's University Belfast

About me

I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. I coordinate the LLM in Law and Technology. I teach Regulating Innovation; Computational Skills for Law Students; and Data, Privacy and the Law. I have also taught Company Law and Corporate Governance on our LLB programme.

My main research interests focus on normative questions around ideas of corporate accountability, whether at the individual level or at the level of the corporation itself. My current focus is on how businesses, regulators and law put the language of human rights to work in addressing the impacts that business operations have on people, societies and the environment.

I welcome PhD proposals on accountability, business and human rights, law and technology, and on organisational accountability, corruption and ethics more generally. I am increasingly interested in computation-led analyses of corporate governance, CSR etc. This website contains some links to my research. Oh, and I quite like Mastodon.

  • PhD in Political Philosophy, 2003

    University of Reading

  • MA in Political Theory, 1996

    University College Dublin

  • BA (mod) Economics and Philosophy, 1995

    Trinity College Dublin


Senior Lecturer
Aug 2021 – Present
Specialising in business and human rights, computational legal studies, corporate governance and accountability
Jan 2007 – Jul 2021
ESRC Research Fellow
Institute of Governance, Public Policy & Social Research, Queen’s University Belfast
Sep 2005 – Jan 2007
Project code RES No 156-25-0033: Regulatory Regime Change in World Financial Markets; World economy & finance research programme
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Institute of Governance, Public Policy & Social Research, Queen’s University Belfast
Sep 2003 – Sep 2005
Lecturer in Political Theory
Department of Politics, University of Reading
Sep 2001 – Sep 2003

Recent Publications

Cyborg Accountability in the 2nd Machine Age

Public administration increasingly involves artificial intelligence processes, that is computational process that are designed ‘learn’ from their data inputs. In this paper I argue that, when it comes to imagining AI’s impact on administration, we ought not to treat it as an exogenous shock to the system. Instead we ought to treat is as an increasingly endogenous feature of administrative work and indeed as one that will become increasingly unnoticed and, for better or worse, taken for granted. I set this argument out by addressing the sources of accountability. Specifically I focus on the ‘teams’ from which informal accountability relationships emerge. These teams increasingly feature algorithms as non-human members. Such agents, albeit not in the same ways that people do, contribute to people negotiating and navigating their commitments; meanings; intentions; and actions as ‘plural subjects,’ to use Margaret Gilbert’s terms. Accountability itself takes on a ’cyborg’ air as algorithms start to play a role in how plural subjecthood emerges: plural subjects are the repository of the collective agency that is in turn subject to scrutiny within the accountability forum. While the ‘robot on the team’ might fade into the background, its effects will be profound. People, teams and regulatory approaches will come to be coded more and more. While AI will be navigated in the context of existing team commitments, it is more helpful to think of all agency as ahving an increasingly ‘cyborg’ air: as being increasingly infused with algorithmic sensibilities.

Naming, Shaming, and the Search for Remedy in OECD National Contact Points