Why you should develop a Rules as Code-enabled future

Blog by Tim de Sousa: “In 2021, Rules as Code (RaC) is truly hitting its stride. More governments are exploring the concept of machine-consumable legislation, regulation and policy, research institutes have been established, papers and reports are being published, tools and platforms are being built, and multi-disciplinary teams are learning new ways to draft and implement rules by getting their hands dirty.

RaC is still an emerging practice. Much of the current discussion about RaC is centred on introductory questions such as why and how we should code rules (and we’ve tried to answer those questions here), but to understand the true potential of RaC, we have to take a longer view.

In this two-part series, I set out some possible optimistic futures that could be enabled by RaC. We have to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to build with coded rules. so we can better plan how to get there.

Trustworthy automated decisions

The first reaction that RaC practitioners are often faced with is the fear of the killer robot. What happens if the automated system makes a wrong decision? What if that decision hurts someone? This is not an unfounded fear – we have seen poorly implemented and poorly used automated systems raise debts that are not owed, and lead to the arrest of innocent people. All human-built systems have flaws, and RaC-enabled systems are not immune.

As a former administrative lawyer and someone who grapples with the ethical uses of technology on a daily basis, the use of RaC to help people understand what decisions are being made and how they’re being made – that is, to enable trustworthy automated decisions – is particularly compelling.

Administrative law is the body of law that regulates how governments make decisions. In common law countries, this generally includes requirements that only relevant matters should be taken into account, irrelevant matters should not be, reasons should be given for decisions, and there should be workable avenues for merits reviews of decisions…(More)”