Government and law 2.0

I'm from a country that is being run like a startup. There's the e-residency program (kind of like Stripe Atlas, but from years ago and with full jurisdiction), we vote online and do everything from taxes to buying a bus ticket online. Seriously advanced stuff. But as with any startup there are it's problems.

Our law is published online - great. It's published in a blog type of way - wtf.. It's searchable and it does have some links, but in this day of age the most important document of the country should be more flexible.

The law of the country should be like git - saving history until the very beginning, stating exactly what was changed, when it was changed, by who and why.

This is one of the projects I some day want to get to. It should also have proper automatic interlinking ability, since any document will always have a lot of cross-references.

Another area that would benefit a lot from this kind of approach is politicians. The people seem to have a very short memory, yet it's not the politicians that change, but the posters (of which we have a sickening amount on the streets). So something like for our small nation would be great. With all the history, promises and achievements visually displayed. Some statistical analysis about how the country got better/worse while this/that party was ruling.

Talk about law though I would love to hold an experiment of people's law. What I imagine is an online app where you have the law in settings form. I could switch laws on and off, change the numbers, change the wording. And the machine will compose what the people really want. This would be an experiment of direct democracy. I don't even think direct democracy would be a solution to our problems, but an experiment like this would be fun.

What brings me to the next burning in my soul:

Law should be in the form of code. Not interpreted by a softbrained human, but by a binary computer.

If the law was a program you would have many benefits. There would be a lot less discussion on what a particular paragraph means, because there is a very concise and clear output. Making laws would be faster as you wouldn't have to think about wording so much, you can see the exact output in numbers. Politicians would have to approach lawmaking in a much more scientific way - connecting the law to the national database would mean any law change would be immediately visible in numbers.

The simplest example would be changing maternity leave support amount. You could immediately see how the money got distributed differently and how a single family would be affected. Okay this is going into the realm of simulation for the more complex stuff and is probably not realistic, but dreaming about this really gets me going.

Now I've said all of this and I'm a programmer. I don't have a clue if this is even doable, but I'm sure as hell going to dig into this one day. Even if it's just to prove it is not in fact realistic.

Well, thanks for reading one of my visions. If you're also interested in these kind of things, drop me a line.

Krister Viirsaar

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