The Code of Hammurabi (left), ~1754 BC, and digital rain (right), the computer code featured in The Matrix series, ~2000 AD.

All day


Held at Inn at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law.” ― Winston S. Churchill

This meeting explored the idea that laws and regulations serve as the operating systems of societies — a lawOS. Like an operating system, laws evolve to manage a vast range of complex functions. Much as Linux, Windows, and macOS coordinate the execution of numerous applications, laws and regulations aspire to ensure the fair and reliable running of society. Laws respond to conflicts of interest, crime, and cheating by growing in complexity — encoding an ever-increasing number of rules and regulations to counter the abuse of power. On occasion the complexity of these rules becomes an abusive power in its own right.

This meeting also explored various questions on the theme of lawOS, such as: Do legal systems occasionally need complete redesigns, as operating systems do? Does the complexity of our current legal and regulatory systems exceed our human capacity for attention, and can AI help address this constraint? Where are the emerging rules and regulations in biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles taking us as a society?

Funding was provided for this event through The Feldstein Program on the Complexity of the Law.


Applied Complexity Network
SFI Host:
Casey Cox

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