by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 22nd 2008 4:51pm
One of the key themes around here for a while has been that technology has a way of making certain laws either obsolete or antithetical to their intended purposes. Often, however, lawyers, judges and politicians have a difficult time recognizing this. That's why it's at least somewhat encouraging to see Australian High Court Judge Justice Kirby publicly recognizing that computer code tends to make laws obsolete or meaningless. "It was a good moral and ethical principle to keep people's control over the usage that was made of the information... And then along came Google and Yahoo. And when the new technology came, there was a massive capacity to range through vast amounts of information. The notion that you could control this was a conundrum." However, while he does realize that technology can make laws obsolete, his solution is still to push for more laws: "To do nothing is to make a decision to let others go and take technology where they will. There are even more acute questions arising in biotechnology and informatics, such as the hybridization of the human species and other species. Points of no return can be reached." It's an interesting point -- though, he doesn't exactly explain what those points of no return are (at least not in the article that quotes him), and why the law would do a better job preventing those points from being reached than technology itself. In some ways, this is merely echoing Larry Lessig's concept that "code is law," though Lessig better recognized that trying to regulate technology with regulations was likely to be a lot less effective than regulating technology with technology.
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