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In a similar vein, one of the things that's worried me is the technology community's blind faith that helping the government automate is a good thing. It is not.

For most western democracies, the government operates by a byzantine layer of legal and regulatory mumbo-jumbo operated by a overworked civil service class. This sounds bad, and it is to some degree, but what it means in practice is very important: not every law is enforced.

People do not understand how critical to civility that statement is. Every day people go too fast in their cars, drink and drive, skip out on toll booth fees, spit on sidewalks, pay day laborers under the table, and participate in all sorts of other non-violent, yet technically criminal activity. And the world keeps spinning around. In fact, I'd argue that this rampant lawlessness is a good thing. People can skate by without car insurance for a month or two because they're getting a second job. They can have the roof fixed by cousin Joe who is on disability because they can pay him under the table at much less cost than hiring a contractor. All sorts of really good things get done because there's a lot of wiggle room.

We start automating everything, and suddenly the system of inconsistent and unintelligible laws become some sort of social operating system. One that is tremendously complex, covers every aspect of our lives, and has never been ran before at any level of completeness. That's a nightmare that any technologists should be intimately familiar with.

So nope, you can't beat politics with technology, and in many cases you can't even fix politics with technology. Politics is about relationships between people, fuzzy arrangements, and structures to facilitate that. Technology is about machines, rigid structure, and boolean logic. The two do not go together naturally.

Perhaps we ought to try it, and then ditch the laws that don't work. To me that's way better than partial and/or selective enforcement, where laws are wielded as weapons by police, lawyers, judiciary and politicians to stamp down on whoever they don't like.

I always thought there should be a one-in-one-out rule. Want new legislation? Cool. Find something to repeal!

This is exactly right. There is so much give in the system, and there has to be, because enforcing all laws as written would be a truly dystopian scenario.

We don't want to live in the a world where it is impossible to get away with a 'crime'.

Instead, we are left in the world of selective enforcement, where most individuals are fine with ridiculous laws, because they are unlikely to be enforced against said individuals.

Unless they, to quote a Japanese proverb, stand up. The nail that sticks out gets hammered, and all that.

The result is a brutal, repressive system, that is very precise in its brutality - typically against minorities, troublemakers, or pretty much anyone who ends up on a bureaucrat's hit list. And nobody has a problem with this state of affairs.

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