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

All day


This event is private.

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.

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Applied Complexity Network
SFI Host: 
Casey Cox

Keynote Presentation: The Capitol Complex: A View from Congress

AuthorsTom Udall, US Senator (D-NM)

Introduction to lawOS

AuthorsDavid Krakauer, SFI President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems

Complexity of Financial Regulation

AuthorsChester Spatt, Carnegie Mellon University

On the Evolution of Operating Systems and Software Ecosystems

AuthorsMichael Godfrey, University of Waterloo

SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Flash Talks

AuthorsJoshua Garland, Justin Grana, Elizabeth Hobson, Chris Kempes

Panel Discussion: Designing Institutions under Radical Technological Change

AuthorsPanel Chair: Yochai Benkler, Harvard University Panelists: Brad Allenby, Arizona State University, Jerry Murdock, Insight Venture Partners/SFI Trustee

Regulation in Nature

AuthorsJessica Flack, Santa Fe Institute

Special Presentation: So What

AuthorsJames Drake, Artist

The Evolution of Constitutions

AuthorsTom Ginsburg, University of Chicago, and Dan Rockmore, Dartmouth College/SFI External Faculty

LegalAIze: On Technology, Complexity, and the Rules of Change

AuthorsUgo Pagallo, University of Turin

Beyond Reason: Rules of the Sports Game Revisited

AuthorsBeyond Reason: Rules of the Sports Game Revisited Michael Jones, University of Massachusetts Lowell

SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Flash Talks

AuthorsChrista Brelsford, Yoav Kallus, Artemy Kolchinsky, Dan Larremore

Panel Discussion: The Design and Emergence of Legal Order

AuthorsPanel Chair: Jenna Bednar, University of Michigan/SFI External Faculty; Panelists: Gillian Hadfield, USC/University of Chicago Ajay Mehrotra, American Bar Foundation/Northwestern University

Computational Law

AuthorsMichael Livermore, University of Virginia

Special Presentation: All’s Well that Ends Well

AuthorsJeffrey Ernstoff, Ernstoff Creative Services/Multi-Instrumentalist and Writer

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