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United States Your Rights Online Politics Technology

US Law Can't Keep Up With Technology -- and Why That's a Good Thing (newsweek.com) 187

HughPickens.com writes: In the 1910s, the number of cars in the US exploded from 200,000 to 2.5 million. The newfangled machines scared horses and ran over pedestrians, but by the time government could pass the very first traffic law, it was too late to stop them. Now Kevin Matley writes in Newsweek that thanks to political gridlock in the US, lawmakers respond to innovations with all the speed of continental drift. New technologies spread almost instantly and take hold with almost no legal oversight. According to Matley, this is terrific for tech startups, especially those aimed at demolishing creaky old norms—like taxis, or flight paths over crowded airspace, or money. "Drone aircraft are suddenly filling the sky, and a whole multibillion-dollar industry of drone making and drone services has taken hold," says Matley. "If the FAA had been either farsighted or fast moving, at the first sign of drones it might've outlawed them or confined them to someplace like Oklahoma where they can't get in the way of anything too important. But now the FAA is forced to accommodate drones, not the other way around." Bitcoin is another example of a technology that's too late to stop. "But have you heard the word bitcoin uttered once in any of the presidential debates? Government doesn't even understand bitcoin, and that's been really good for it." Uber and Airbnb show how to execute this outrun-the-government strategy. By the time cities understood what those companies were doing, it was too late to block or seriously limit them.
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US Law Can't Keep Up With Technology -- and Why That's a Good Thing

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  • "But have you heard the word bitcoin uttered once in any of the presidential debates? "

    Obviously not. What we did hear, is that politicians have still problems understanding email and that's technology in their 30ies.

    • most of the candidates are in the 50's or 60's.

      You can't understand technology if you don't learn and most people stop learning once they turn 25.

      That's why at age 37 I started playing the violin. if you stop learning you go stupid. And I don't want to be stupid.

      • Offtopic, but how easy has the violin been for you to pick up?

        I'm interested in hearing how easy a musical instrument is to pick up in someone much older than the normal beginner.

        • I started playing a few years ago (42) when my son was beginning suzuki and decided to keep it up. After a while my teacher convinced me to switch to viola so I have been doing that.
          It's not easy, but that's not why I am doing it. We have some volunteer orchestras in my area and my goal is to get good enough to play in one of them.

      • By what standard do you suggest that most people stop learning by age 25? That makes no sense whatsoever.

        If you're just referring to the fact that by 25 most people have stopped going to school I'll grant you that much. Aside from the fact that its apparent many dont learn much beyond how to do keg stands while college, most everyone continues to learn throughout their lives. Even beyond retirement age. If you dont you stagnate in your career and in your relationships. And most of that learning cannot b
    • Which politicians? The last I heard was McCain. It wasn't that he didn't understand it - it was that he couldn't type due to physical injuries.

      Which politician, in today's world (not 1986 or 1996) doesn't know how to use email?
      • Which politicians? The last I heard was McCain. It wasn't that he didn't understand it - it was that he couldn't type due to physical injuries. Which politician, in today's world (not 1986 or 1996) doesn't know how to use email?

        It's been a few years, but Ted Stevens is probably the most (in)famous example of the past decade.

  • Why should they? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monoman ( 8745 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @06:53AM (#50845593) Homepage

    Why should laws keep up with technology? Laws should be written in such a way that the technology involved doesn't matter. Typically laws should be about an outcome more than a method. There are already so many laws on the books that the first thing to look at is if an existing law applies. If not, is there a law that should be amended to cover the new technology?

    Example: Highway speed limits are for all motor vehicles and not just a specific type of vehicle. It does not matter how many wheels (car, motorcycle, tractor trailer, etc) the car has, what type of the engine (gas, diesel, electric) is under the hood, what kind of transmission (auto, manual), or if if has some fancy new electronic accessory ... the speed limit is the speed limit.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In a best case scenario, what you think should work, but...

      There is a question of who has jurisdiction over regulation, and the vast majority of regulatory laws aren't even specified by congress. They abrogate the responsibility, and so you have several agencies, often with contradictory regulations, trying to claim their piece of the action.

      Example: suppose self-driving cars become a thing. If the can communicate with each other, they should be able to travel at very high speeds safely.

      How do you regulate

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is a question of who has jurisdiction over regulation,

        Sounds like it is time for a national legislative rationalization project in the US. On the subject of regulation, is the issue here really about timely regulation, Habsburg Empire style over-specific regulation, or over-regulation in general?
        Timely regulation should decrease investor risks, increase public confidence, protect from unnecessary legal liabilities, improve public safety, and empower democratic society. Freedom of the enterprise, underlying legal principles and the constitution should always pr

      • Re:Why should they? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:44AM (#50845871)
        Actually, you raise a good point. Recently the California Coastal Commission enacted a regulation banning the breeding of orcas at Sea World. The mission of the California Coastal Commission is "To protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the environment of the California coastline". What does Sea World breeding orcas have to do with that mission?

        The Commission's justification for this regulation was that no one else was regulating Sea World in this area, so they were free to do so. Notice, they did not point to a law which gave them the authority to regulate Sea World. They just assumed that such regulation was appropriate and, since no other government agency was doing so, enacted a regulation.

        This is NOT how our government is supposed to work.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Example: Highway speed limits are for all motor vehicles and not just a specific type of vehicle.

      Not true, many jurisdictions have different speed limits for heavy trucks.

    • > Example: Highway speed limits are for all motor vehicles

      But trucks used to be _much_ smaller than modern double wides or tanker-trucks for fuel and chemical delivery, so a whole new set of laws about the _construction_ of the highways and the weight capacity of the bridges was needed. And simple safety regulations about handling fuel for diesel, versus electric capacity, and about the quality of the fuel become critical pretty quickly to avoid fraudulent dilution of fuel. And mo9dern highways certainly

    • Laws should be written in such a way that the technology involved doesn't matter

      Laws often apply to situations that didn't exist before some technology was invented. There was no little need to regulate traffic when a horse drawn cart on a rickety road was the fastest anyone went. There was no need to regulate wiretapping before the telephone was invented. There was no need to regulate the aggregation of large amount of personal data before large datacentres became cost effective to build, and so on. There may be some debate over whether hand-gun ownership should be regulated, but

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )
        Except here we aren't talking about anything that's truly novel. We're talking about R/C aircraft (drones), taxis (Uber), and beds & breakfast (AirBnb), each of which has been around for decades or longer. These are simply being used in new ways from which the established industry failed to protect themselves, and from which they now want the government to protect them once again.
        • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

          The problem with Uber and AirBnB isn't technology. It's that their business model doesn't fit into cities where the normal rules of supply and demand have broken down. You might argue that rent-regulated markets like New York and San Francisco have brought their housing crises upon themselves - but it's a pretty empty argument. Both are seriously land-limited and seriously in demand. Some kind of regulation is required. Taxis are a little easier. In congested central cities, it's imperative to balance

          • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

            In congested central cities, it's imperative to balance the number and availability of taxis with the congestion they produce.

            And since congestion isn't homogenous across a city, it's imperative to do the above on a street-by-street basis. Can you think of a better way than by limiting the number of taxi stands on each street?

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      In Israel, the speed limit does vary based on vehicle type. There is a maximum that applies to cars and motorcycles, and lower limits for other types of vehicles.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Why should laws keep up with technology?

      Because people think that new technology is special and the old rules should not apply.

      Take for example the "right to be forgotten" in the EU. It has existed for decades, governing things like credit reference agencies, what parts of their criminal past people have to report to employers etc. Then Google comes along and offers a service that lets you get all that data on someone for free, and because it's on the internet somehow the old laws should not apply.

      Personally I agree that the old law is fine, but

      • Right to be forgotten was designed to apply to companies whose explicit charter is to gather specified kinds of information about individuals, like credit history, so that their financial clients can be informed about those individuals. Companies that do this job well, which gather more detail, are rewarded with more business from banks as their operations become recognized as standards. Right-to-be-forgotten laws were written to limit the applicability of the standard in the interest of fairness for all. I

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )
          In the same way that libel is censoring speech, sure.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Right to be forgotten was designed to apply to companies whose explicit charter is to gather specified kinds of information about individuals

          If you check the EU directive and the member state laws implementing it, they all state that the rules were designed to regulate any company that handles data about people. In fact the EU directive is derived from even earlier rules from member states such as the UK, which back in the 1980s introduced the rules about data having to be accurate and relevant.

          • If that is the case, why is it that the news site doesn't fall under the right to be forgotten, but Google's index does? Why does the BBC get to continue to have the article published while Google has to remove it?

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              News sites do fall under these same rules. However, news sites can claim public interest protection. The public greatly benefits from newspapers being able to report and archive such information. Google could have tried to argue that its actions were also benefiting the public in the same way, but didn't even bother because it knew it wasn't going to work. If it were, credit reference agencies would already have tried simply providing links to news articles about bankruptcies from decades ago.

    • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:46AM (#50845877)

      Why should laws keep up with technology? Laws should be written in such a way that the technology involved doesn't matter.

      Kind of adorable that you think that is possible. Oh you can put a general framework out there but there ALWAYS are going to be specific details that need legislation. Congress in the 1700s could not possible have written a law that deals adequately with the nuances of radio communications 200 years later. Nobody is so smart as to be able to write laws in such a way that technology doesn't matter. Furthermore any law that is so broad as to cover everything will have innumerable corner case, loopholes and problems. You need a good framework but sooner or later you are going to have to get into the ugly specifics.

      • Furthermore any law that is so broad as to cover everything will have innumerable corner case, loopholes and problems.

        Exactly this. If you only take current technology into account, you'll wind up with a strictly applied law with few loopholes (at least technology-related loopholes). However, this law will quickly become obsolete once technology marches on. On the flip side, trying to write your law for all possible future technologies will result in a law so broad that it can be used against anyone/anyt

    • That's obviously one law that's been obsoleted since the Founding Fathers couldn't have anticipated the arrival of the submachine gun and the shoulder-fired rocket.
      • That's obviously one law that's been obsoleted since the Founding Fathers couldn't have anticipated the arrival of the submachine gun and the shoulder-fired rocket.

        Of course they could have anticipated the arrival of the submachine gun. The shoulder-fired rocket is, I suppose, significantly less obvious. However, it was presaged by a number of rocket weapons, including the Korean Hwacha [wikipedia.org], employed against the Japanese in the 1590s. Europeans became aware of rocket technology "thanks" to the Mongols [wikipedia.org], and the first iron-cased rockets were successfully developed and used in 1792 by rulers of the Kingdom of Mysore in India against British East India Company forces. And no,

        • In fact, the founding fathers would push for machine guns and shoulder fire rocket launchers to be owned by the general populous. They WANTED everyone to have military level firearms as it would prevent other countries from invading the US.

          • Probably the reason the kill ratio in land combat has mostly been in US favor. Here you get what's effectively the largest reserve army in the world, larger than the official armies of countries with stricter gun control laws.
        • Of course they could have anticipated the arrival of the submachine gun. The shoulder-fired rocket is, I suppose, significantly less obvious. However, it was presaged by a number of rocket weapons, including the Korean Hwacha [wikipedia.org], employed against the Japanese in the 1590s. Europeans became aware of rocket technology "thanks" to the Mongols [wikipedia.org], and the first iron-cased rockets were successfully developed and used in 1792 by rulers of the Kingdom of Mysore in India against British East India Company forces. And no, I didn't know any of these specifics without looking them up :p

          I doubt the Founding Fathers had access to Wikipedia. But yes, the image I get from the word "arms" is that it's any sort of weapon that you can carry in your "arms".

    • Example: Highway speed limits are for all motor vehicles and not just a specific type of vehicle. It does not matter how many wheels (car, motorcycle, tractor trailer, etc) the car has, what type of the engine (gas, diesel, electric) is under the hood, what kind of transmission (auto, manual), or if if has some fancy new electronic accessory ... the speed limit is the speed limit.

      Sigh. Why do people make car analogies when they've never driven out of their neighborhood? In many states, there is a separate speed limit for vehicles which are towing. In California, where we have the most people, the most vehicles, the most miles of road, and the most vehicle-miles traveled, the speed limit while towing is 55, no matter what you are driving or what you are towing. But the same vehicle, when not towing, travels at whatever the posted speed limit might be. (Sometimes that's 55.)

    • Typically laws should be about an outcome more than a method.

      Thanks for putting this so eloquently. This is a concept I have tried to explain to people in the past (even at work in a previous job) and I lacked your excellent phrasing.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      your speed limit example is actually a perfect example of how laws DO in fact need to keep pace and don't.
      especially as we move towards autonomous vehicles, but in fact applicable even with today's vehicles.

      a high performance sports car can easily handle higher speeds and sharper turns than a semi hauling two trailers.
      yet both are given the same 70mph limit, even though its rather too much for the double semi, and rather below the sports cars safe capability.

      so why shouldn't they have different lega

      • your speed limit example is actually a perfect example of how laws DO in fact need to keep pace and don't.

        especially as we move towards autonomous vehicles, but in fact applicable even with today's vehicles.

        a high performance sports car can easily handle higher speeds and sharper turns than a semi hauling two trailers.
        yet both are given the same 70mph limit, even though its rather too much for the double semi, and rather below the sports cars safe capability.

        so why shouldn't they have different legal limits on what's safely acceptable?

        On an open road with no other drivers, this makes sense. However on an open road with no other drivers, who are you protecting from unsafe operation of either the truck or the sports car? If there is no traffic, then maybe you don't need the limits at all.

        On a road with lots of other vehicles, though, a few vehicles traveling at significantly different speeds increases the risk and damage in accidents and due to the extra attention that must be paid and the maneuvers needed to accommodate the slower/faster

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          1. Roads are engineered for specific maximum top speeds. Who's being protected? The driver, and the tax payers (by not having their money wasted scraping some idiot off a tree, and all the necessary repairs to the road surface/surrounding environment)
          2. Drivers are not prescient - an empty road might suddenly become not empty without the driver being warned.

      • Actually, in many states and on many highways, they do often have different speed limits for Trucks that are 5 or 10 mph lower than the normal speed limits.
        Also, just because a high performance sports car can handle higher speeds and sharper turns, doesn't mean their driver can. Most truck drivers have had a lot more training and certifications to drive their big rigs plus they also have a lot more incentive to drive carefully when driving their expensive rigs with expensive cargoes. Whereas any idiot wit

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        it is impossible to write laws that are technologically timeless, and this has been shown time and again, whether it's determining how high into the air your property rights extend after the first airplanes begin flying x-country...

        If you can write such a law that doesn't violate the zero-one-infinity rule [wikipedia.org], I think you'll get pretty close to timeless.

    • If sounds like you essentially believe the civil system should be the primary source of enforcement?

      The issue with that is it doesn't prevent bad behavior (it pretty much legalizes risk taking), and many of the outcomes can be too bad for a person to make nice.

    • We need laws to limit rights when they are shown that are being abused. Making laws on new technology is a waste, because how the technology will be used and abused isn't fully known or understood.

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      Your example seems bad even for cars. I have a sweet sports car. It's low to the ground, and it is built for handling and speed. It has big brakes which dissipate heat vastly better than a typical sedan, and it has broads wheels giving it a great deal of traction, which help with the aforementioned acceleration, but also deceleration.

      My sports car is fully safe at much higher speeds than a semi truck. And in many places, there are different laws for semi trucks (a different speed limit) than regular car

    • That sounds naive. So in 200 years when we've got intelligent flying robot hypercars, they will be limited to ~80 mph, though they can operate safely at 700mph. You either have to change the numbers or declare that the airspace is not a "highway" as mentioned in the old laws. Either way, the laws haven't kept up.

      The only way laws can keep up with technology is if they are written so vaguely that every detail needs to be re-interpreted by a judge. Might as well not even have laws then, and just have a genera

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Once again this drivel from a worshipper of The Church of Invisible Hands and Shrugging Atlases.

    I do agree that laws are not always for the best. But there ends our agreement. The worst laws are those bought by "whole multibillion-dollar industr[ies]". The shrugging (should I say bribing?) Atlases.

    • the worst laws are those bought by "whole multibillion-dollar industr[ies]". The shrugging (should I say bribing?) Atlases.

      It's funny how you seem to dismiss markets and then highlight megalo-corps, which could never exist in a free market, as evidence of how wrong market proponents are (corporations are fundamentally government charters to not face liability for unethical actions; partnerships behave much, much better - as evidenced by the investment banks).

      There are three basic ways humans control other

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Markets are based on peace? So, I am born and can use uninhabited land, having never agreed to refrain from doing so? I can just go ahead and erect a house in the corner of your hundred acre estate, even though it hardly has any impact on your life?

        No, because markets are based on the principle that, the moment a person is born, their government will force them to respect all existing private property.

        There is nothing peaceful about this. Markets exist because men with guns enforce their rules. The rules of

        • "Markets exist because men with guns enforce their rules."

          Marketplace are the most ancient structures known to archaeology. Barter was one of the first activities that people conducted in small groups, which means that you're right in the very limited sense that trade requires at least as much civilization, enforced by basic rules of fairness adopted by both sides of a transaction, as is necessary for two people to meet and do business without immediately killing each other. These rules were enforced by the

    • Once again this drivel from a worshipper of The Church of Invisible Hands and Shrugging Atlases.

      I do agree that laws are not always for the best. But there ends our agreement. The worst laws are those bought by "whole multibillion-dollar industr[ies]". The shrugging (should I say bribing?) Atlases.

      OT: It will be great when such opinions, though in conflict with my own, can be safely posted non-AC with no fear of downmoddding vengeance.
      Nevertheless, I think you've honestly missed the point of TFA, or at least the fine summary.
      The fact that tech outruns the bureaucracy is, on average, a very good thing. Especially true in parts of the world where rulers are desperate for tight control of every individual's access to information, free market innovations, and the basic human right to live their liv

  • hah, poor Oklahoma.

  • I don't think bitcoin is the best example to use for technology in a presidential debate. It isn't used by enough people. It does represent a way that something existed that there wasn't a law for and the fact that a presidential debate isn't the place to discuss these kinds of matters highlights the real issue: Representative democracy.

    Now this is what the presidential debate should really be focused on, aside from all the other populist agendas on show, how do we use technology to create and electoral pro

    • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@nospAM.gmail.com> on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:08AM (#50845753)

      None of the examples are particularly good:

      Bitcoin - lots of investigation from the SEC et al, rules laid out and restrictions put in place.

      Uber - don't we pretty much have at least one story a week about Uber being banned in particular locations after failing to follow requirements for taxi services already in place?

      AirBnB - massive legal issues, banned in NYC for a time, required to implement hotel taxes.

      I don't think any of the examples are actually examples of things outrunning the government successfully.

  • It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. This is true with any sort of bureaucratic management system.

    The only caveat is, it had better truly be an awesome thing that you're doing that will have the masses behind it. If it is something that just pisses off management/government, you have just stepped on your own dick wearing cleats, and will be screwed in short order.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nope.

    There is a long history (in New York anyway) of unlicensed gypsy cabs. Sometimes they get caught and are hit with heavy fines. I don't see how Uber is any different.

    There is one way Uber is different - they are spending millions on lobbying governments. Take this job ad for example: https://www.uber.com/jobs/6280... [uber.com]

  • Lawmakers think that the role of government is to set explicit, concrete boundaries on every avenue of human action. Instead of abiding by a principle for government's role, like the defense of individual rights, they debate "what percentage tariff should be imposed on imported TVs from South Korea this year, so as to maximize competition and minimize harm to domestic labor unions." Or something equally disintegrated.

    The latter mentality will never be able to keep up with the pace of change, and this will

  • someplace like Oklahoma where they can't get in the way of anything too important

    Q) Why doesn't Texas fall off into the Gulf of Mexico?

    A) Because Oklahoma sucks.

    ;)

  • To be honest: O only have read the summary, but that was already dumb enough.
    First regarding drones: for them apply more or less the same rules as for manned air crafts or more precisely all the secondary regulations regarding low flying stuff like kites, hobbyist baloons etc.
    New regulation is IMHO only needed where small crafts are an anoyance ir dangerous and no current ruling (or common sense of the operators) keeps them in order.

    Secondly, regarding bitcoins: there is big difference between a BitCoin and

  • I know it fits perfectly inside the wet dream of what Americans think the US is all about, but I'm not sure that allowing the flying of drones without some regulation is a good idea.

    • Are you talking about the already highly regulated drones, as used by the military and in very limited cases by some domestic government operators and a very few commercial operators who have pursued legal waivers and are forced to use military-grade equipment? Or are you talking about remote control model planes and copters, which people have been flying for decades?
  • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:31AM (#50845817)

    So what is the assertion here- the government will stop technology as soon as it gets a whiff of what's going on? Are you sure you're not mixing up the government with your parents?

    The government has no interest in stopping the forward movement of technology, nor do they have a historical record of trying to do so. The idea that they *might have* stopped the automobile or drones or bitcoin is just that, an idea you have for some reason. It's a historical counterfactual injected to frame the government as technologically regressive.

    I see no evidence that the government is ideologically technologically regressive. If your point is that politicians think the internet is a like a bunch of old fashonied vacuum tubes through which messages get sent (which actually is not a terrible analogy) then consider that about as many older movie stars and writers and artists don't use or *get* modern technology as politicians, who skew heavily upwards in age.

    Just recalling instances from one day's reading and listening Richard Gere isn't on Twitter and Richard Ford writes his novels longhand without a computer. So it goes.

    OTOH we fund via DARPA and other programs vast amounts of the most cutting edge science, science which if it were declassified would seem like magic to us. We're talking advances in things like human cloning and quantum computers which are mind blowing even to readers of /.

    So where is this "good thing they didn't know about THIS" attitude coming from? America celebrates it's inventors, tinkerers, mavericks, oddballs. All these things you cite are products of tinkering. They're not basic science but the application of well known technologies to solve problems in novel ways.

    Say what you want about America, pre-emptive legislation is not in American's DNA. If something becomes big enough to start impacting innocent bystanders, broadly considered, then Congress steps in, as is its right and duty.

    • If something becomes big enough to start impacting innocent bystanders, broadly considered, then Congress steps in, as is its right and duty...

      ... since federalism [wikipedia.org] was declared defunct around 1937 [wikipedia.org].

      Prior to that time, state governments were primarily in charge of protecting "innocent bystanders," except when Congress's "right and duty" was explicitly spelled out in the enumerated powers [wikipedia.org] granted them by the Constitution. Congress didn't pass much "pre-emptive legislation" for its first 150 years because it was not authorized to do so in most cases. You explanation omits that reason why the U.S. doesn't have a longer history of such actions. (St

  • Highway speed limits are for all motor vehicles But trucks used to be _much_ smaller than modern double wides or tanker-trucks for fuel and chemical delivery, so a whole new set of laws
  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:40AM (#50845851)

    Does Mr. Matley expect the government to anticipate the next fad and outlaw it just because? Maybe the government should have outlawed Segways, they were supposed to be game changers.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:44AM (#50845867)

    The Code of Hammurabi or the Law of Moses (in particular) could probably handle most situations arising from "being a dick and hurting someone with your toys." We settled the basic problem of how to handle actual cases of hurting people with your toys about 4k-5k years ago, we just quibble on what the punishments should be. In fact, ironically, if we stole the standards of evidence used in the Law of Moses for our own system, it would put the innocence project out of business (for good reasons) because prosecutors and cops would be scared shitless to abuse the defendant, but I digress...

    Most of what TFS mentions are just regulatory decisions. These are often just "nice to haves" that have little bearing on whether you can accurately say that the courts are unable to address real harms done to real people and property. The FAA might not be able to regulate the nuances of drones now, but I'd bet good money that at any point since they became commercially available, that had you caused someone's death with one (even by accident) a prosecutor could have nailed you to the wall in any court in the union.

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @08:48AM (#50845887) Homepage Journal

    1. Tinkerer invents something.

    2. Regulator goes to office, gets cup of coffee, reads the paper, doesn't care.

    3. "Wild West" economy as millions buy and use invention.

    4. Regulator goes to lunch.

    5. Nine Journalists report on invention as wonderful, spectacular, world-changing.

    6. Regulator does some shopping on way back from lunch.

    7. Tenth journalist, beaten to punch, finds "man bites dog" story, unintended consequence of invention

    8. Regulator packs briefcase for ride home.

    9. Legislators get panicked calls from people either hurt by invention, or afraid they'll be hurt by invention.

    10. Regulator has dinner, goes to bed.

    Guess what regulator reads in the paper tomorrow morning? Guess what's in the regulator's email tomorrow morning?

    As a former regulator, there's nothing sinister about either the cowboy market or the regulations, and I get weary of the memes of anti-cowboy and anti-sheriff. What is broken is risk-benefit analysis, and it's probably broken at the journalism juncture. "if it bleeds, it leads" gives journalists money if they shock us, and there's nothing more shocking than a new risk we have to worry about.

  • Is a currency, it is already regulated as are all other currencies, nothing new about it

  • "If the FAA had been either farsighted or fast moving, at the first sign of drones it might've outlawed them or confined them to someplace like Oklahoma where they can't get in the way of anything too important"

    Hey, I live in Oklahoma, you insensitive clod!

    On a serious note, the Panhandle is the perfect place to test drones, absolutely nothing out there.

  • The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die
    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Great... [amazon.ca]

    From the blurb: "Our markets are hindered by overcomplex regulations that debilitate the political and economic processes they were created to support; the rule of law has become the rule of lawyers."

    Learn about unintended consequences of regulations.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:34AM (#50846557)
    It is odd that the New testament speaks of the end times when we will be confounded by our complexity. Beyond that we have a situation where numerous laws can be applied to many situations and the effect is that a judge can pretty much do anything he likes which in a way is the same as having no laws at all. Then we have an issue with law makers creating laws which have severely negative effects that were unexpected. A huge example is in the creation of smart guns. The intention was to keep people in our nation a bit safer. But the law that passed actually doomed the sale of smart guns completely. The problem is linked to a law passed in New Jersey that mandated that once available on the market anywhere in the US the residents of NJ would be denied the right to purchase any regular gun and buy only a smart gun. So nobody in the firearms industry and almost zero gun owners will tolerate a smart gun being made or sold. If NJ had simply passed a law saying that a gun store must offer at least one smart gun for sale then we would have smart guns all over the nation while most gun hobbyists would still buy non smart guns. We also have a lot of laws and customs that are actually causing crimes. Allowing private bail companies and failure to provide money to hire private lawyers are causing people to commit crimes to pay for lawyers and bails. But because money is involved no progress can be made to build a decent criminal justice system.

"Well I don't see why I have to make one man miserable when I can make so many men happy." -- Ellyn Mustard, about marriage

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