Open source legal operating system (paging flee)

rC | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: RC5908
IP: Logged

10,581 posts
ayy lmao
Quote
What Can Lawyers Learn from Programmers?
What kinds of professionals spend their days reading, writing, and editing rules?  Two kinds: lawyers and computer programmers. Despite this fundamental similarity, however, they seem to live in different worlds.  That’s probably because lawyers mistakenly think that programmers don’t have much to teach them (and, as a consequence, because programmers try to stay very, very far away from lawyers).  In fact, though, lawyers could learn a lot from coders.

Computer code and legal code are similar in more than a few respects. Both declare operations to be performed under specific sets of conditions, attempt to create definitions that correspond to human activity, incorporate and revise previously-written code, and (hopefully) account for exceptional circumstances. While there are a great many differences as well, there may yet be an opportunity for cross-pollinating knowledge and experience from one field to the other.

Legal systems resemble pre-1970’s software in terms of portability and reusability. Much like how programs and operating systems were bespoke designed unique for each architecture, governance and codes of laws are currently crafted for each environment or government and unable to build upon each other, despite performing very similar functions.

Modern software developers are aware of the recent explosion of new ideas, experimentation, forms of organization and impressive decentralized projects that came with the introduction of suitable layers of abstraction and portability in the form of C and UNIX and later combined with the open source movement and the internet. By freeing programmers from having to rewrite operating systems that did more or less the same thing but with different interfaces, they could focus on actually writing programs, and even port those programs to different computer architectures without having to rewrite the entire application. Instead of writing code in an assembly language that was incompatible with all other platforms, the introduction of a higher-level language allowed programs to be transferred from one environment to another.

While some members of the software profession may take this wonderful state of affairs for granted in the digital realm, in the offline world they live under systems of laws and governance that are still waiting for a common framework, a standardized legal operating system, a basic foundation that hobbyists and experts from different countries and disciplines can openly collaborate on. Many of us may have vague desires and ideas of how to share the lessons learned from portable computer systems with the legal profession, though such ideas are likely worth their weight in gold Dunning-Krugerrands. Now however, a few in the legal profession have attempted to apply these concepts to law.

But first, an explanation of the problem: many people are unsatisfied with aspects of the governments and legal systems they live under, and most people have little agency to come up with their own improvements. There is a high exit cost to changing countries, citizenship, and governments. Improvements and refinements from one jurisdiction cannot always be easily taken and applied to another because of incompatible legal systems, different definitions, unintelligible languages, and jurisprudence. The overhead of experimentation can be great; each new government writes its constitution from scratch, comes up with court systems, has its own legislatures and judges, and so on. This limits the scope for the sort of healthy robust competition and innovation that has been seen in the world of software since the introduction of portable programs and operating systems, open-source development, reusable libraries, and collaboration on a global scale.

Perhaps you would like to create a new set of codes for yourself and like-minded individuals to live by. Maybe you believe laws or punishments are unfair or unjust, or you certain immoral or unsavory behavior should be curtailed. Taxes should go to fund socially useful schemes or taxes are too damn high. Freedom of movement is a basic human right or we need to keep the bad guys out. Whatever your vision, there are practical and theoretical ways of implementing it today, be it via homeowner associations, Special Economic Zones, setting up your own seasteading colony in international waters, founding a religion, or incorporating a new town. There exists a vast number of overlapping codes and laws that govern all people already, but they often lack a shared foundation of well-understood, time-tested common principles. Enter Ulex.

What is Ulex?
In a nutshell, Ulex provides a set of sane legal defaults including a simple system for resolving disputes closely modeled on the system commonly used to arbitrate international trading disputes. There are recommended basic modules for civil procedure, torts, contracts, and property that incorporate best practices as codified by organizations including the American Law Institute/International Institute for the Unification of Law’s (ALI/UNIDROIT’s) Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure, and selected volumes from The ALI’s Restatements of the Law.

Ulex 1.1 can be viewed as a template for creating a legal distribution. It references the contents of the legal packages from quality upstream maintainers, along with some system utilities in the form of meta-rules, optional modules for criminal law, procedural rules and substantive rules. This distribution should not be considered final, complete, or the best legal system for any new self-governing group of people, but rather a starting point for experimentation. Since not everyone who wishes to create a new society is well versed in legal history and modern best practices, having a jumping-off point with quality material curated by a law professor should be useful. Not everyone wanting to build applications may know how to design a working operating system, and they shouldn’t have to.

Creating legal systems by means of references other documents is a common and systematic practice, much in the way that software is rarely written from scratch but instead makes use of libraries of already packaged code. So too can legal distributions be created with a few well-thought references to systems that already work well and some legal wording glue to create a coherent system. Implementation is accomplished via contract law in the context of the host state, a necessary bootstrapping mechanism for now. Ulex version 1.1 includes an optional host sovereign integration module (section 5) if better compatibility is desired.

All that is needed for implementation is for parties to formally agree:

Only Ulex 1.1 shall govern any claim or question arising under or related to this agreement, including the proper forum for resolving disputes, all rules applied therein, and the form and effect of any judgment.

Ulex is not the final answer in self-organizing legal systems but a potential first organizing principle and base layer of abstraction upon which more varied and ambitious legal projects can be based. If a common template and minimum functioning system can be designed, the process and results can be embraced and extended around the world as people increasingly experiment with new forms and options for self-governance. With competing designs and implementations may come, eventually, more inspired and community-driven legal systems all developed in the finest tradition of open source development.
https://spiegelmock.com/2018/10/16/ulex-an-open-source-legal-framework/

Help flee I need you to tell me whether or not this is cool


 
 
Flee
| Marty Forum Ninja
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: Flee
IP: Logged

15,559 posts
 
This honestly seems pretty naive and pointless. It sounds cool at first glance but is filled with plain buzzwords and ideas I think are unrealistic or just not worth it. Googling the author suggests he's a programmer with no apparent legal expertise which immediately explains his comments in the first paragraph. It is of course anecdotal, but I have yet to meet a single lawyer or legal expert who didn't think there was anything to learn from programmers. Especially in my field of work, it's a huge part of our job to understand what is happening at the technical level. However, what I have seen time and time again it's actually the coders who have little to no interest in listening to lawyers because they see them as the opposition trying to hinder their work with pointless rules and limitations. The author of this article got this completely backwards and his assertion that coders try to avoid lawyers because the latter have no interest in learning from them is something I think happens very rarely compared to the other way around.

As for the content, I think that the biggest flaws are that it underestimates the degree of legal harmonization we already have, overestimates the added value of a system like this, and doesn't quite understand how difficult it would be to implement in practice. Many legal systems in the Western world already share a lot of similarities. Scrolling through some of the plans they have, I can immediately tell many of these exist more or less the same way in many US states, Belgium, France and Germany. Comparative law is as old as the study of law itself. Creating uniform or basic principles is far from a new idea and the reasons that these legal systems only share a lot of similarities but are not identical are the same that I don't see this project going anywhere either. There's pretty substantial (cultural and societal) differences between how we view law and many of its aspects. Inquisitorial vs adversarial, civil law vs common law, punitive vs corrective damages... These are major differences that you can't just ignore and that manifest themselves in specifics such as the role of the judge, the value of the jury, the independence of the judiciary, the weight of evidence... All things that differ tremendously across jurisdictions. Either you really have to delineate the scope of this project (focus only on American states, for example), or you'll have to come to terms with this being nearly impossible to ever implement at a larger scale.

Finally, I don't really see what exactly Ulex accomplishes. If I go to the site of the actual project, it just seems to be a fancier table of contents of existing legal attempts at drafting uniform law (such as ALI and UNIDROIT, which it cites for almost every one of its points). I don't really see the added value in framing this as a software or OS approach when they're just compiling restatements.

I can go over it more in-depth if you'd like but that should summarize my thoughts. How did you even stumble upon this?


maverick | Legendary Invincible!
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: Maverick
IP: Logged

3,817 posts
 
I don't really see the added value in framing this as a software or OS approach when they're just compiling restatements.
nice


rC | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: RC5908
IP: Logged

10,581 posts
ayy lmao
I can go over it more in-depth if you'd like but that should summarize my thoughts. How did you even stumble upon this?
There was an app I was playing with and I looked on the guy's GitHub and found this. Sounded interesting, but I thought the same thing you did when he started talking about standardizing the law. Like, isn't that what case law is for?

None of my CS friends have any real interest in law, which sucks because it's pretty fascinating.


 
 
Flee
| Marty Forum Ninja
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: Flee
IP: Logged

15,559 posts
 
Kind of. Case law (or jurisprudence) doesn't so much standardize law as it interprets it. You obviously can't (and shouldn't) make legislation so specific that it covers every imaginable scenario. You'd need hundreds of thousands of pages of law, it would be completely unworkable in practice and would get you horrible results. Instead, legislators draft laws in such a way that they contain general and specific rules that can be applied to a variety of different situations. It's why a lot of legislation uses concepts like "fair, adequate, appropriate, balanced" without them being strictly defined for every possible scenario. That's the point where the judges step in to find the most fair solution, just punishment or right balance between interests. They have the discretion to look at mitigating / aggravating circumstances, consider people's background/situation/future, look at the larger picture and so on. So they don't really standardize the law but they interpret it and apply it in practice where they base themselves on policy guidelines, scholarly literature and other legal precedents by higher courts (which of course does settle and result in common norms or standards).

When people talk about standardizing (or harmonizing) law they refer to the actual law itself being consistent across jurisdictions or within countries. It's got an entire field of legal study (comparative law) dedicated to it and it's pretty legit stuff. I took several classes on it back in law school and you very often see that many parts of the law are very similar and share a lot of common attributes even going beyond borders. It's why I think that this Ulex project underestimates what we already have and how this has been achieved up to this point. In addition to countries just copying what works for others and reading legal texts from elsewhere, the best way to achieve harmonization is through international treaties and agreements. The EU is probably the most successful attempt at this with its Directives (laws that set a minimum standard and leave each country a lot of freedom to determine how to reach that standard) and Regulations (directly binding laws that are adopted 1:1 by European countries) but it happens all over the world. A good example of this is the Cybercrime Convention. It's a treaty drafted by the Council of Europe that has been signed by several dozen countries all over the world, including the US. Its main goal is to harmonize how we deal with cybercrime by making sure that certain actions (such as hacking and computer fraud) are illegal everywhere and are all understood to be the same thing.

For example, article 7 of the Convention says the following on computer-related forgery:

"Each Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offences under its domestic law, when committed intentionally and without right, the input, alteration, deletion, or suppression of computer data, resulting in inauthentic data with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic, regardless whether or not the data is directly readable and intelligible. A Party may require an intent to defraud, or similar dishonest intent, before criminal liability attaches."

What this means is that every country part of the treaty will (and at this point long has because this is from 2001) alter its own national law to include digital forgery (as defined above) in its criminal law and make it illegal by wording and legislation it decides on its own. As a result, cybercriminals can't just operate from country X where there particular scam / hack isn't illegal. This is how a good portion of legal standardization is achieved in reality.

And yeah man, you guys should take note of the law. Do they teach you guys classes on that? Stuff like privacy by design, problems with discrimination in software, security standards, access controls and whatnot is pretty important. We really need more programmers who are aware of the ethical and legal implications of their work.


rC | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: RC5908
IP: Logged

10,581 posts
ayy lmao
We have to take a Ethics in Computer Science class, but that's it. It's also scoffed at by pretty much everyone, which always bothers me.

Also, write a blog so I can grave my eyeballs with your thoughts more often.


 
 
Flee
| Marty Forum Ninja
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: Flee
IP: Logged

15,559 posts
 
We have to take a Ethics in Computer Science class, but that's it. It's also scoffed at by pretty much everyone, which always bothers me.

Also, write a blog so I can grave my eyeballs with your thoughts more often.
Programmers and software engineers tend to have the worst attitude when it comes to ethics and law. It's an enormous shame that so many of them let their own preconceptions and prejudices make them so close-minded. Stuff like computer ethics, data protection, fairness by design and system transparency should be mandatory in any computer science program. I'm happy to see that some people like you still see it differently.

And I regularly write for legal blogs already. My latest one was on cyberwarfare and what AI applications in conflicts mean from a humanitarian law perspective. Very interesting stuff, especially when you look at how the private sector and companies like Google play an increasingly important part in it. Unfortunately it's all under my real name and I don't really have the time or interest in doing more under a pseudonym. Always open to answer questions or share my thoughts on a particular topic though.
Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 07:05:42 PM by Flee


rC | Mythic Inconceivable!
 
more |
XBL:
PSN:
Steam:
ID: RC5908
IP: Logged

10,581 posts
ayy lmao
We have to take a Ethics in Computer Science class, but that's it. It's also scoffed at by pretty much everyone, which always bothers me.

Also, write a blog so I can grave my eyeballs with your thoughts more often.
Programmers and software engineers tend to have the worst attitude when it comes to ethics and law. It's an enormous shame that so many of them let their own preconceptions and prejudices make them so close-minded. Stuff like computer ethics, data protection, fairness by design and system transparency should be mandatory in any computer science program. I'm happy to see that some people like you still see it differently.

And I regularly write for legal blogs already. My latest one was on cyberwarfare and what AI applications in conflicts mean from a humanitarian law perspective. Very interesting stuff, especially when you look at how the private sector and companies like Google play an increasingly important part in it. Unfortunately it's all under my real name and I don't really have the time or interest in doing more under a pseudonym. Always open to answer questions or share my thoughts on a particular topic though.
I don't think people realize how poorly many supposedly secure services are implemented. It's not easy or cheap to design a complex system that is also as close to secure as you can get, and programmers tend to be lazy (imho), so it's a recipe for disaster. But I think if more coders realized the importance of data security, both legally and morally, more time would be spent on designing secure systems and testing them.