Algorithmic regulation

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Algorithmic regulation is an alternative form of government where the advantages and usages of computer algorithms are applied to regulations and law enforcement. Written laws are not replaced but stressed to test its efficiency. It was coined by Tim O'Reilly, Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media Inc.

Sometimes the "rules" aren't really even rules. Gordon Bruce, the former CIO of the city of Honolulu, explained to me that when he entered government from the private sector and tried to make changes, he was told, "That's against the law." His reply was "OK. Show me the law." "Well, it isn't really a law. It's a regulation." "OK. Show me the regulation." "Well, it isn't really a regulation. It's a policy that was put in place by Mr. Somebody twenty years ago." "Great. We can change that!""

[...]

Laws should specify goals, rights, outcomes, authorities, and limits. If specified broadly, those laws can stand the test of time.

Regulations, which specify how to execute those laws in much more detail, should be regarded in much the same way that programmers regard their code and algorithms, that is, as a constantly updated toolset to achieve the outcomes specified in the laws.

[...]

It's time for government to enter the age of big data. Algorithmic regulation is an idea whose time has come.[1]


Algorithmic regulation is supposed to be a system of governance where more exact data collected from citizens via their smart devices and computers are used for more efficiency in organizing human life as a collective.[2][3]


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  1. ^ Open Data and Algorithmic Regulation, Tim O'Reilly - Beyond Transparency
  2. ^ A brief exchange with Tim O'Reilly about "algorithmic regulation", Tim McCormick
  3. ^ The rise of data and the death of politics, Evgeny Morozov. The Observer, Sunday 20 July 2014