Showing posts with label legal futurism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legal futurism. Show all posts
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Regulating Google

Sunday, September 2, 2007

An article from the economist said that Google has made publishers, telecom companies, libertarian and privacy defenders worried (if not 'upset'). I would put news agencies on the list.

So far however, the article said, Google is clean. No violations of copyright laws nor competition laws. The alchilles heel might be on privacy law.

Supposed google failed (either deliberately or by omission) to show my blog in its search results, or it reduces my page rank unfairly, on what bases can I sue Google, other than through their Terms of Services?

BTW, here's an excerpt from the economist's article:
Ironically, there is something rather cloudlike about the multiple complaints surrounding Google. The issues are best parted into two cumuli: a set of “public” arguments about how to regulate Google; and a set of “private” ones for Google's managers, to do with the strategy the firm needs to get through the coming storm. On both counts, Google—contrary to its own propaganda—is much better judged as being just like any other “evil” money-grabbing company.
Google is a capitalist tool, I agree. But it represents the new form of capitalism. The legal infrastructure we have today regulates the 'old' capitalism. It may not be adequate to 'catch' google.

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2007 Legal Predictions: What is HOT?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

No computer as a legal subject, no determining your child using copyright, no international law on online games, we only talk about 2007 not 2030. What's going to be hot? Jennifer Granick wrote in Wired that (i) contract law and (ii) privacy law will be the two hot topics for 2007.:
Free speech and fair use don't mean much if software end user license agreements, or EULAs, or website terms of service, or TOS, can take those rights away. Contract law allows private parties to agree to forgo most rights in exchange for some privilege. Vendors of goods and services take advantage of modern contracting tools, like click-through or shrink-wrap, to impose terms and conditions on using software or websites. These documents purport to limit the user's legal rights.

Two things have changed. First, it's no longer acceptable only to catch criminals during or after a crime has been committed. Counter-terrorism requires identifying and neutralizing threats ahead of time. Second, collecting information about everyone is now much cheaper and easier than it used to be. We spread information about ourselves as we use the internet, shop online, talk on our cell phones, send e-mail or use electricity. These activities leave a digital trail that database and search technology can store and access relatively inexpensively.
Privacy has been quite a debate in 2006, both for lawyers and non lawyers. Futurist such as Brin had invented the concept of "Transparent Society"and Cascio introduced the "Participatory Panopticon". For the lawyers, Posner's books "Uncertain Shield: The U.S. Intelligence System in the Throes of Reform" and Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency both discusses privacy issues as an inevetable aspect of law enforcement. I think these thoughts contributes significantly to the privacy legal debate in 2007.

I agree with her analysis on online contracts. Even lawyers wouldn't bother spending time to study the content of online contracts. Thus, following this, another aspects of law will arise: consumer protection and competition law.

You can read the whole thing here.

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Unwise Nanotechnology Regulation

Monday, December 11, 2006

Neil Lane's statement is compelling:

"In my view, given what's at stake, this situation is unacceptable. I fear that nanotechnology may be heading for a fall. A major environmental, medical or safety problem -- real or bogus -- with a product or application that's labeled 'nanotechnology' -- whether it actually is nanotechnology or not -- could dampen public confidence and financial investment in nanotechnology's future, and could even lead to unwise regulation. We should not let this happen," stated Dr. Lane.

As stated by NSF, Nanotechnology development will occur in these stages:

1st Generation: Passive nanostructures

2nd Generation: Active nanostructures
3rd Generation: Systems of nanosystems
4th Generation: Molecular nanosystems

Each generation of nanotechnology will bring different effects and entails different risks. First generation Nanotech will carry environmental risks. The question is always about nanotoxicity. It will therefore require (i) sufficient testing methods and (ii) development of (iii) pre-market testing for health and environmental impact, (iv) life cycle assessment (v) methods for reducing exposure.

Coping method: Reform and adaptation of environmental and health laws

Second and third generation nanotech carries a different risk in the form of system instabilities: "your biosensors is malfunction", "the nanodynamo isn't working", "how come my drug is directly excreted out of body"?

Coping method: Consumer law oriented. Reform on product liability/service liability rules.

The last generation of nanotechnology -- molecular manufacturing -- will be the most complicated and bring enermous affect. First generation oriented legislations will be absolutely obsolete. Some second generation laws can probably inspire the fourth generation nanotechnology regulation, but gaps are unavoidable. CRN is the only organisation that focuses specifically on fourth generation nanotechnologies. All of these risks must be dealt from now on as even early studies on the fourth generation nanotechnology may not be sufficient to mitigate the risk.

Possible coping method: (i) Informational law oriented, major overhaul on information
management laws. (ii) Application of legal futurism studies

(Many Thanks to: Mike Treder/CRN)

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Computer as a legal subject

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Martine Rothblatt made a very exciting presentation which you can watch here. She argued that future computers might have its own consciousness and therefore must be granted rights equivalent to those enjoyed by natural persons (e.g. the right to vote, the right to be voted, the right to property, etc).

One of her main argument is that, the more closer something to human, the more rights they get. I agree, plants have no right from not being injured, apes does. It is to be noted however that while it is true that the degree of rights accumulates the more something is closer to human, obligations do not. Obligation is the monopoly of the conscious. There is no gradation with regards to obligations.

Climbing into the ruling class, asking for equalities and emancipating is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes a revolution, magna charta, bill of rights, bastille day, battle of gettysburg. I've been thinking that the process toward granting computer a legal subject may be like releasing nations from collonialisation and tribes from apartheid or at least like granting women the right to vote. Are you ready to elect a computer as your president and supreme court judges?

There are more questions to ask. What are the boundaries between consciouss and non-consciouss computers? What kind of legal pluralism applies in the future society where the two kind of consciousness coexist? Suggesting ourselves as the sole "being" would be a consciousness-chauvinism. It is a good thing that we start talking about this from now. Let's hope that there will be no "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in the future.

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Economy of Abundance

Friday, October 27, 2006

A wonderful power point presentation from Anderson's Long Tail, titled "Economy of Abundance" is now available on line. There is a good summary from David Hornik in his blog:
The same businesses that are the poster children for the Long Tail, are the poster children for the Economy of Abundance. And the same businesses that are the victims of the Long Tail are the poster children for the Economy of Scarcity. With bandwidth and storage approaching free, iTunes can offer three million songs (P2P offers nine million). In contrast, with limited shelf space, Tower Records can only offer fifty- or sixty-thousand tracks. The end result, consumer choose abundance over scarcity (something for everyone) -- Tower Records gets liquidated while iTunes grows dramatically. Television is undergoing a similar transformation, from scarcity to abundance. TV initially consisted of only the major networks. Consumers were limited to 3 choices in any given time slot. With cable the number of channels was dramatically increased and a broader range of content became available (Food Channel, Discovery Channel, ESPN, CNN, etc.). To many, 250 channels may constitute sufficient abundance as to approach infinite choice in their minds. But the true television of abundance is YouTube. With unlimited bandwidth and unlimited storage, television is subject to microprogramming -- millions of shows, viewable on demand at any time. Now not only should NBC be worried, so too should be Comcast.
Anderson did not take into account molecular manufacturing in his presentation. I have the feeling that full scale abundancy will-- for the time being-- be only availabe to non-physical goods. The cost for sharing files in P2P is of course, almost zero (there is of course the time costs and therefore opportunity costs being incurred). E-books, songs, videos, you can sell it this way. But that is not the case when you sell vegetables through the internet. There are still costs thay you will have to pay, you need to grow it first, then maybe sell it at e-bay. Consider other commodities such as water. Do you really think there is going to be a long tail for water companies? Nope, water market is always monopolistic.

Those aspects, Anderson did not consider. But, those scarcities may not last long. Thus, there could be a long tail too for water or plants, not the real water or plants, but programs containing molecular structure of water or plants. This is what we call, the nanotech's economy of abundance.

I am taking this opportunity to point out that futurist and nanotech expert had actually come up with the idea of abundance, but seen from the nano perspective and not from the economical and marketing perspective.

Abundant economy will revolutionarize the Law. Creative Commons and EFF movements is a reflection of this, but it is not likely that the developments are limited into those areas. The trend of the future law will follow the long tail trends: decentralized, personalized, fast, consumer-dictated, open, shared, highly networked. In Burgess words:
In a system based on scarcity, those holding the levers of production will not easily give them up. In domestic and international markets based on scarcity, the function and responsibility of directors and officers is to maximize shareholder value—at nearly any cost that does not fall afoul of laws, or at least not so far afoul that the penalties exceed the financial gain resulting from illegal actions.

So, what kind of culture do we want? In a system of plenty, will we continue to keep score by maintaining the preponderance of benefits inside corporate walls and coffers? Will we continue to stifle the spread of benefits through secrecy and protectionism? Unless something changes, history suggests that laws, regulations, and protections will continue to be designed for the exact purpose of directing all profits and virtually all of the benefits to shareholders.
Will corporation remained existed? I have a feeling that the trends toward "limited liability" will be reduced. Limited liability has been quite abusive in that it escapes real liability and hide it behind corporate walls. There is of course a doctrine of lifting the corporate veil, but it doesnt really work if you can hire good lawyers. So I think there is going to be a shift from limited liability to common but differentiated liability. Next question, will multi-national corporations (MNC) ceased to exist? Their number of employees will shrink of course, but it isn't likely that they ceased to exist. They will evolve, maybe as a completely new entity. I must remind you to Google. That, is the prototype of future MNC. And what does google have in mind? Stakeholder, not shareholder. Participation, not centralization. Opennes. Boldness in buying You Tube with the risk for violating multiple copyright laws. The world is changing and the future law must accomodate this.

We need "Legal Futurism"

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Yeah, yeah you think Im nuts, been hearing it all the time :)

We've heard profession called "legal futurist", its the kind of professional that matches what kind of IT tools suits best for the lawyers and how the legal practice will be delivered in the future. But, that's not what I am talking about, I am not talking about a virtual lawfirm or using google desktop search for your lawfirm's knowledge management or some software for due dilligence that can make the partners fire their paralegals. Those kinds of tech has been discussed elsewhere by KM experts.

What I am talking about is a specific body of the legal science which dedicates itself in making prognosis of the future of the legal system and develop models for new bodies of law. Legal futurism will have to work side by side by futurist in modelling the future. It deals with questions such as, what kind of right applies to private ownership in Mars in the event of terraforming, or can artificial intellegence be a legal subject or if personal nanofactory is possible what kind of liability laws should be imposed or, since information is reality itself, should the law that applies to information be applicable to the "real world"?

I've been thinking that we can use a developing body of ethics such as the "reversibility principle" or "proactionary principle" for the discussion. Ethics can fill the content but the structure of which the content is embodied must be provided by the legal science. Emerging legal theories such as the concept of "Juridification" can also be used as an additional tool.

Another tools may come from legal history. By understanding the background that leads to the formation of Rights (for example, IPR or real estate laws), we can understand what kind of new right that could emerge in the future. Analogy will also play an important role. UN-Model, Intelsat, Inmarsat, IMF and EU model can be used to propose the organisation of future molecular nanotechnology administration. Some transhuman groups had also suggest a copyright model for determining parenhood, something that I consider to be extraordinarily genious.

Legal futurism shall not attempt to answer a question, for it would be a futile attempt to do so. Instead, what it should do is to create models of solution.