Law as Code?

I've finally started perusing Lessig's 'Code is Law'. What motivated me to take a look was the following idea, to see to what extent 'Code is Law' expressed this idea. In a sense this 'completes the cycle' from 'rule of law' to 'rule of code', to 'rule of law that is code'.

I am interested in who has thought along such lines before.

Inspired by Code Is Law: Law as (machine friendly) Code.

  1. Now the laws of the UK and US are written in a dialect of English at present.

  2. Consider that the dialect used (call them UK Legal English and US Legal English) is far more expressive than it needs to be.

  3. What function to most laws serve:

    1. They say what we can and cannot do, or must and must not do, in various circumstances.

    2. They need to be able to sufficiently define those circumstances, and actions, and so on.

    3. Some of these are implemented as rights and/or responsibilities.

    4. The right to own things, and human rights.

    5. The duty to file tax returns, and so on.

  4. Now, consider that it is likely one can produce a human and machine friendly language for expressing all of these (a legal programming language), which could then be translated automatically into most foreign languages.

  5. By removing unnecessary expressivity, since the statue books are not the place for existential poetry or creative fiction, we can simplify the law to make it far easier to search and query, and indeed make much of a judge's role subject to computer automation.

  6. It is important human judges sanity check the output, but the entire workload of the legal profession could be made much easier.

John
Turnip!