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'Code' of conduct
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Laws are written by humans in natural language, and the ambiguity provides rich gaps. A place where the gentle art of the legal profession truly lives. Right?

Rubbish! As a citizen, I have the right to know when I have or have not broken that new complex noise-abatement law. There is enough interpretation of intent, motive, behaviour, etc without all that mucking about trying to define what the law actually means in the first place.

For instance, if the law states that a penalty of $100 applies to a natural person of legal age and no prior convictions who does wantonly make more than a reasonable noise a a time of night that a panel of my peers would reasonably expect me to be quiet....

... does that mean less than 100dB and 9:30pm? And is the prior convictions about the penalty or the offence?

What right do the lawmakers have to impose laws which cannot be understood clearly, anyway? How is it possible to remain law-abiding in a world of uncertain legal frameworks?! Argh!

I propose any new law introduced must be computationally executable. That way, parameters can be entered to see if the law applies.

Changes to legislation would be versioned and added through discrete APIs and modules that make the entire legal system open to both the auto-interpretation of the law AND to visibility of bugs or clashes in the 'code' of law.


not_only_but_also, Oct 31 2011

[xaviergisz, Nov 01 2011]


       //I propose any new law introduced must be computationally executable//
They are, only not in the environment that you want them to be. Think of the court system as a debugger.
calum, Oct 31 2011

       I've always said lawyers were debuggers.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2011

       And then there's legislactation script, which defines in precise detail where nursing mothers may feed their young, and for how long.
RayfordSteele, Oct 31 2011

       As it happens, this concern has been raised in jurisprudence. Just as there are different approaches to sacred texts which involve hermeneutics, such as authorial intention and the location of meaning, so are there controversies concerning whether the intentions of the legislator or those of the court in interpreting the law are paramount. This idea comes down on the side of the legislator and as such makes apolitical statement. The question then arise s of whether its my "right" to interpret this as inherent in the idea whether my reading is as valid as the idea's author or whether a different interpretation is viable.
nineteenthly, Oct 31 2011

       Haven't we done a variety of "computational law" themes already?   

       Legalese should be more understandable, but that's not the intention here, as far as I can see. (Go out on the street and ask ten people to explain what your IF...THEN statement means.)   

       This idea is more along the lines of automated law, which is marginally worse than law open to human interpretation. Didn't they do that on Startrek once?
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2011

       Formal systems are not ambiguity-free. You are going to run into problems with Godel's theorem and the Halting Problem.   

       Many lawyers -- the ones who draft contracts, and other documents -- strive to eradicate ambiguity, and would probably welcome something like this if it were feasible. Within contract law, there might be domains restricted enough for it actually to work.
mouseposture, Oct 31 2011

       //You are going to run into problems with Godel's theorem and the Halting Problem.// No you're not.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2011

       You mean that pathological cases won't arise in practice?
mouseposture, Oct 31 2011

       I mean that neither Godel's theorem nor the halting problem are likely to arise.   

       Unless you can provide a plausible example to the contrary.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 31 2011

       Think of the out-of-work lawyers! There will be people -- intelligent, or at least cunning people -- paid to find loopholes. It's like saying that certain configurations in chess, or certain genomes are unlikely to arise. You get into all sorts of weird low-entropy states with competition that you wouldn't otherwise. Either you buy that, or I can't convince you -- I don't think I can make the argument more rigorous.   

       (Also, is the Halting Problem in fact distinct from Goedel's Theorem? My understanding is that they have some sort of deep commonality but I don't really understand what that is.)
mouseposture, Nov 01 2011

       Yech. MaxBuch is right - "computational law" is new idea neither on the halfbakery nor in the real world of people talking to one another: I spent I don't know how many minutes of the 1990s buttonholed by wet-eyed CS zealots, listening, with an intensity in inverse proportion to the quantity of froth forming at the corners of their mouths, to them bang on and on about how code is more elegant and clear and why o why o why does the law have to be written in such an ambiguous and complicated way o if only the law could be written as code then everyone could understand it they could just go up to a terminal and say have i broken the law and then they would know because the computer programe law would be able to compute it o why o why o why and so on and so forth ad graduation.
calum, Nov 01 2011

       Indeed. Computational logic produces simplistic yes/no answers, not justice. The law has many faults but one of its great strengths is the use of that word "reasonable". It allows judges & juries to use the most effective tool in the legal armoury, their common sense.
DrBob, Nov 01 2011

       //the defendants fingerprint when he was last arrested// The snickering sound you hear is coming from the defendant's lawyer. The only advantage of computational logic in that example is efficiency.
mouseposture, Nov 01 2011

       You mean your example wasn't about prosecutorial misconduct? Sorry. Seems I read too much into it.   

       Agreed: this idea'd work best in selected parts of the justice system, rather than globally. In fact, I suggested one upthread.
mouseposture, Nov 02 2011

       You were likely charged because a panel of your peers were disturbed by you and decided to call it in to the police.
bob, Nov 02 2011


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