(and why I call myself a Legal Architect)
Legal Architecture’s manifesto, first draft. My post on Legal Half Hour.
“Law is information. Like information, it can be produced from many different sources and reach terabytes of mass. We don’t need to reduce that information, we need an instrument to make sense of it, to provide it with coherence and to enhance research and retrieval. Here is where legal architecture steps in. (…)”
“When I think about legal architecture now, I think about driving Information Architecture into law. Information Architecture is a very recent discipline which has been teaching us some interesting stuff on the way information should be presented and organized. Information Architecture makes the complex simpler: Legal Architecture aims to do the very same with law.”
I’d like to attend ICAIL2013, the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law that will take place June 10th-14th in Rome, but I’m not sure if there will be interesting stuff for a non academic tech-legal person like me (and you).So I’ve opened a Branch here http://t.co/sulul6pTAw
Whoever you are, feel free to contribute.
“ICAIL 2013 is an academic-oriented conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law. High level tech-legal discourse will take place there. But what are the topics which are interesting for a legal entrepreneur (because they’re usable in a short time frame, for instance?) icail2013.ittig.cnr.it →”
This week, VoxpopuLII, the cutting edge legal information blog of Cornell University, published my piece “Taxonomies make the law. Will folksonomies change it?” http://tiny.cc/97fiww
I have a gut feeling that folksonomies are going to change the way we search, teach, and apply the law. Why? Because taxonomies did the same. They shaped our lawyers’ minds.
The post is also the first example of legal architecture at work, that is, information architecture applied to the legal field.
Let me know it if you make it to the end.
Some days ago I read these Peter Thiel on the Future of Legal Technology notes.
Maybe one day Artificial Intelligence progress will bring us a totally computerized justice system. When lawyers think about it, they first think about a computer judge. And when they think about a computer judge, either they are skeptical or they are afraid that such a thing could sit in a court one day (I was no exception). Why?
1. We assume that the current state of the justice- as delivered by expert human judges- is pretty good (fair decisions, timely delivered, almost free of mistakes);
2. We assume that a computer judge will most probably turn into a hellish HAL 9000 sooner or after.
Ergo, we’d better keep what we have.
As Thiel cleverly noted, assumptions 1 and 2 are flawed. Look at data. Indeed the State of the Art in justice is far from being optimal (judges do make mistakes); and we can’t predict yet if a machine judge will do a good or bad job (so any futuristic-Space Odissey scenario is flawed anyway, because based on intuitions).
We reason the very same way for any other situation in which we are asked to evaluate current state of the art and make predictions.
So we are change averse because:
1. We think (intuitively) that things are great -> Status quo bias
2. We think (intuitively) that the future is going to be worse if we undertake change -> Flawed prediction
Both status quo bias and incapacity to make predictions happen because we never look at data (we have never been trained to do so), but we just rely on intuitions.
Now, scientists look at data. Economists look at data. Sociologists look at data. What’s wrong with lawyers?
Oh right. They don’t like maths.
Now, I never liked definitions. For many reasons. They are often too broad or too narrow and they rarely can explain you something (you always need to point at the object/instance to make things clear).
1. Making definitions is hard. They are often too broad or too narrow. If I am to explain E.T., the big headed alien, what a table is, I could try to fashion a definition for him (he never saw a table). I’d put on my graduate student hat and say: a table is a wooden object with 4 legs. Beeep! That’s a too narrow definition (we have tables with one, two, three legs, or glass, metal, plastic tables etc..). I could say then, trying to be more abstract, that a table is a object with a n* number of legs on which you can lay things. Beeep! That’s a too large definition (this way it could be a bedside cabinet, etc…). You see? That’s not easy, and it ends up being partial and confusing. The quickest way to understand what a thing is, would be pointing at that thing. Same for legal concepts. These concepts come from social life. We all know what a contract is before we read the definition on a Code or a textbook: we buy, sell, swap things. We rent apartments. We all grasp what “owning something” means, long before some Academic tried to use its best Wittgenstein to make it clear (?) to us.
2. Ok, let’s admit it. Sometimes you just need definitions. The way we use a word can be vague, and people can use the same word differently. We need to agree on some basis. But what did we just say? Definitions are what people think they are.
That’s why I found this “What’s a patent troll” poll a clever thing. These guys don’t try to invent a definition, they simply ask people what they think a patent troll is. How they use the term, when and why.
By the way, by doing so, it much easier not to get stuck into the problem of a too narrow/too large definition. Why? Because people who define and people who use the definition are the very same. It’s not some kind of well learned rule maker/academic who tries to distill, in his little office, the real meaning of “patent troll”.
Legal definitions are slippy. I would avoid them as long as possible. But if you need them, keep in mind they can be more easily wrong if they are created by a minority. Users do it better.
Kind of an OT today. But this is a blog about taxonomies too so let me tell you a little story.
Yesterday I read an interesting article about Linnaeus , who hallucinated doubles of himself. This guy, famous for his taxonomy, would suffer of strong migraines which caused hallucinations in which he saw himself -doubled- repeating his very same movements, like a mirror would do.
At once I thought this kind of hallucination could have connections with his huge amount of work in classifications, but just a couple of hours after it dawned on me why. Of course, that’s just a dull hypothesis coming from someone who knows nothing about psychiatry/neurology. But look at Linnaean taxonomy here and my idea will hit you as well:
See what I mean? Taxonomies follow a pattern of duplication/repetition (Order/order, family/family, genus/genus). If the taxonomy is highly coherent, repetitions occur more frequently. Could this be connected with Linnaeus’ hallucinations, either being the cause or the effect (of a schizophrenia, for instance)? I’m not aware if other people who experienced a doubled self were fond of taxonomies too. That would be a question to ask Oliver Sacks.
And for today, it’s enough with amateur diagnosis and taxonomy related issues. Back to my article about folksonomies which I’m going to release soon.
Larry and Catherine married and had two children. Larry and Sam were close friends. They work for the same employer. Larry was the best man at Sam’s wedding. A few years later, Sam separated from his wife and obtained custody of their two young children. Larry and Catherine also separated. Their children remained with Catherine. Sam and his children moved in with Catherine and her children. Larry now has a common-law spouse. She has three children. The two households are located one kilometre apart.
In the midst of this social stew perhaps it is not surprising that Larry and Catherine are having problems, serious problems, regarding the custody of, and access to, their children. The source of the difficulties is hatred: a hardened, harmful, high-octane hatred.
Larry and Catherine hate each other, as do Larry and Sam. This hatred has raged unabated since the date of separation. Consequently, the likelihood of an amicable resolution is laughable (hatred devours reason); and, a satisfactory legal solution is impossible (hatred has no legal remedy).
Quite enthralling hm? Look at short sentences. Facts are introduced shortly and powerfully. Look at beautiful alliterative sequence: hardened, harmful, high-octane hatred. Also the comments denotes a literary rather than legal sensitivity (hatred devours reason [and] has no legal remedy).
I’ve also fun while noting that, as in the case of Gray vs Barr, the decision involved couples which apparently were going through a hard relationship.
Maybe love affairs trigger judges’ literary touch -and enhance clarity.
Von Savigny, who was this guy?
The portrait doesn’t make him justice. He was a lawyer (a legal scholar), born and raised in XVIII-XIX century Germany - and if you’re curious you can get some more info about him here.
Basically he said that making (private) law is not up to the Government, the Parliament, the King, the Courts. Private Law is made by people who used it and refined it through the years, making it consistent.
He was neither a socialist ante litteram (he was a nobleman and happy about it), nor he wanted to overthrow the legal system (indeed he just talked about private law - stuff like obligations, torts, inheritance, ownership and so on..)
But think about it, he stood for user generated legal content. Law 2.0.
He was an academic but look how he stepped down from the pedestal when he said that
Law is no more made by lawyers than language by grammarians. Law is the natural moral product of a people … the persistent customs of a nation, springing organically from its past and present. Even statute law lives in the general consensus of the people.
I think this guy - whom Continental students read of in their jurisprudence books- carried a very disruptive and modern thought. Think for a second - law made by people? Doesn’t it sound even more extreme than current crowdsourced law making projects like this?