Our community, and the Jotwell Tech section, lost a giant this week. Ian Kerr, who died on August 27 of complications from cancer, was a contributing editor to this section since its founding in 2009, and a luminary of the field of law and technology for much longer. As Canada Research Chair in Law, Ethics, and Technology at the University of Ottawa, Kerr was a leader in in taking ethics and interdisciplinarity seriously. His expansive body of work often addressed questions years before others saw them.
Kerr embodied the Jotwell mission statement: to “identify, celebrate, and discuss the best.” He was unafraid to be laudatory; he was positive without apology. His writing could be bitingly funny, and he loved to let the air out of overinflated ideas, but he was unfailingly, irrepressibly generous toward his fellow scholars and his fellow humans. He won teaching award after teaching award. He welcomed, mentored, and was a constant source of encouragement and critical feedback for everyone—senior or junior, professor ,or student.
In Kerr’s words (about his alums and research team), we are “incredibly fortunate to find [ourselves] surrounded by such excellent people.” He himself was one of these excellent people, not least because he brought out what was excellent in everyone around him. We will miss his voice, his leadership, his brilliance, his friendship, his kindness and his irreverent grace.