Law and Government are something we invented. We have a good history of how that happened, but people do not think of it as what it is: software. Low-tech software. It is much like medical technology before bacteria and virus were discovered. I have always believed high-tech software would make society much better, but new technology for very large scale social data collection is very dangerous. It could have a major effect on law and government, or make it much worse.
This website concerns advanced social technology as it relates to law and government. The prevalence of war, crime and poverty indicates that our society does not work. I have always assumed that the question was “How to change it? “, by which I meant make society better. Now it seems inevitable that new social technologies will fall into the hands of malicious people.
In the past, social technology has been used maliciously by dictators.
The core of the problem seems to be political. One need only review the political situations in various countries around the world to see how poorly the different systems function, whether in dictatorships or democracies. The worst of them can be Social Engineering, which has had a bad reputation for a long time, at least since Karl Popper used the term to describe the top-down organization of society.
Social engineering does use social technology, just as creating the weapons of war used simple techniques of metal working and chemistry. Once discovered, those pieces of technology cannot be undiscovered. They can only be supplemented by new tools and techniques which will undermine their ill effects.
I have always assumed that we can continue to develop new social technology to improve law and government. Now we have as an example the way Cambridge Analytical provided social data which was used to influence elections and at least one referendum. I feel that this was trivial — it provided a relatively small amount of information on only a few million people.
The new technology of Recursive Exhaustion makes it possible to collect a vast amount of data on almost everybody. That includes detailed information on children, collected without their parent’s knowledge or permission.
I hope this is not already being done. It will be.
The only way of preventing new social technologies from being used by evil people is to develop new tools and techniques.
As noted above, our current legal and administrative technology is crude, like medical technology before the vectors of disease were discovered. It remains true that people spread bacteria and viruses from one to another, but there is now medical technology for dealing with the problem. There are antibiotics to kill bacteria and now antivirals to limit the consequences of viral infection. There are also vaccines to prevent infection in the first place.
It is possible that new social technology based on blockchains could be useful in this regard. Blockchains are inherently peer-to-peer, quite unlike the top-down organization of even the most democratic government. Their use would be a dramatic change, greater than the change from monarchy to democracy itself.