Englert et al.: Logical Limitations to Machine Ethics with Consequences to Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Matthias Englert, Sandra Siebert, and Martin Ziegler have posted Logical Limitations to Machine Ethics with Consequences to Lethal Autonomous Weapons.

Here is the abstract:

Lethal Autonomous Weapons promise to revolutionize warfare — and raise a multitude of ethical and legal questions. It has thus been suggested to program values and principles of conduct (such as the Geneva Conventions) into the machines’ control, thereby rendering them both physically and morally superior to human combatants.

We employ mathematical logic and theoretical computer science to explore fundamental limitations to the moral behaviour of intelligent machines in a series of “Gedankenexperiments”: Refining and sharpening variants of the Trolley Problem leads us to construct an (admittedly artificial but) fully deterministic situation where a robot is presented with two choices: one morally clearly preferable over the other — yet, based on the undecidability of the Halting problem, it provably cannot decide algorithmically which one. Our considerations have surprising implications to the question of responsibility and liability for an autonomous system’s actions and lead to specific technical recommendations.

Mark Gibbs has a recent post at NetworkWorld describing the paper: Forget your robot overlords: Watch out for Lethal Autonomous Systems that make mistakes.

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Katz and Bommarito: The Three Forms of (Legal) Prediction: Experts, Crowds and Algorithms

Daniel Martin Katz and Michael Bommarito of Michigan State University and the ReInvent Law Lab have posted slides of their presentation entitled The Three Forms of (Legal) Prediction: Experts, Crowds and Algorithms, given 19 November 2014 at Chicago Legal Innovation and Technology Meetup, in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Among the topics covered in the presentation are:

Some comments about the presentation are shown in the storify of the meetup.

HT @legalhackCHI

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The Good Law Hackathon: 22 November 2014, London: Links and resources

The Good Law Hackathon is being held 22 November 2014 at the UK Ministry of Justice in London.

I think John Sheridan of The National Archives is organizing the event.

The event appears to be associated with the UK Government’s Good Law Initiative.

The first prize winner of the event was Jordan Hatch for: How much power does Parliament give and take from government?

The data sets worked on at the event are available at: http://leggovuk.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/

One Twitter hashtag for the event is #goodlaw

Click here for a storify of images and Twitter tweets from the event.

Here is a description of the event, from the event’s eventbrite page:

Your chance to the hack the entire statute book

If you’ve ever wanted to hack the whole statute book, not just individual pieces of legislation, come along to the Good Law Hackathon. Our goal is to develop various hacks that measure the statute book in some way. Imagine creating a ‘census’ of the statute book!

When most people think of legislation they think of words not numbers, yet the simple act of counting can reveal a great deal about how we are governed. Imagine counting how many times a legally significant word or phrase occurs, or the use of powers, or the number of internal or external references in legislation. Imagine what it tells us – for example, when does legislation start to ‘wear out’?

We’d like you to hack ‘indices’ for some aspect of statute book – the things you’d like to have a go at counting. It’s just not been possible before – but we’ll provide all the data you’ll need.

Here are some of the datasets and tools you’ll be able to download and use:

  • As enacted legislative texts by type and year in HTML, XML and Akoma Ntosa XML
  • Revised current legislative texts by type and year in HTML, XML and Akoma Ntosa XML
  • Effects by legislation type and year in RDF/XML
  • The CLML Schema
  • XSLT for legislation.gov.uk XHTML


Click here for other posts about the Good Law Initiative.

HT @demsoc

Posted in Algorithms, Data sets, Hackathons, Hacking, Storify, Technology developments, Technology tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Land Matrix: Data and Visualizations Concerning Large Real Property Transactions

Land Matrix is a free and open database of large land transaction data, with visualization tools.

Land Matrix is operated by a group of organizations including International Land Coalition and GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies / Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien.

Here is a description of Land Matrix, from the project’s frontpage and About page:

The Land Matrix is a global and independent land monitoring initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in decisions over land and investment.

This website is our Global Observatory – an open tool for collecting and visualising information about large-scale land acquisitions. […]

In the Global Observatory, a deal is referred to as an intended, concluded or failed attempt to acquire land through purchase, lease or concession that meets the criteria defined below.

The Global Observatory includes deals that are made for agricultural production, timber extraction, carbon trading, industry, renewable energy production, conservation, and tourism in low- and middle-income countries.

Deals must:

  • Entail a transfer of rights to use, control or ownership of land through sale, lease or concession;
  • Have been initiated since the year 2000;
  • Cover an area of 200 hectares or more;
  • Imply the potential conversion of land from smallholder production, local community use or important ecosystem service provision to commercial use.


According to the project’s Website, the Land Matrix database currently contains data on 1,021 transactions.

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Ceci: The Role of Argumentation Theory in the Logics of Judgements

Marcello Ceci of University College Cork has published The Role of Argumentation Theory in the Logics of Judgements, in Michał Araszkiewic et al. (Eds.), Problems of Normativity, Rules and Rule-Following (Springer 2015).

Click here to access some portions of the chapter on Google Books.

Here is the abstract:

The present paper represents an effort towards the acquisition of an acknowledged standard for the rule and logics layer of the semantic web stack of technologies. It is part of a broader research trying to improve the state-of-the-art of legal knowledge representation by facing its main issues: the gap between document representation and rule modeling, and the need for a shared standard in the logic layer to represent legal reasoning. The paper focuses on the upper part of the semantic web stack, namely the rules and logics layers: here, the Carneades Argumentation System supports the reproduction of judicial argumentation through a ruleset and a knowledge base imported from an OWL/RDF ontology. Being based upon the theories of argumentation developed by Gordon and Walton, Carneades supports argumentation schemes and uses them as templates while instantiating rules, ontology and cases into argument graphs. We argue that using argument schemes is the only viable choice to represent legal reasoning properly, and for this purpose, the concept of argument scheme should include templates that represent procedural aspects of legal processes, such as the acts available to the parties during a court trial. Even if emerging standards in rule representation (such as LegalRuleML) overcome many of the limitations of precedent languages, they lack a complete model of the argumentation process. This, as the paper tries to demonstrate, prevents the representation of legal arguments in their procedural aspects and in those aspects related to patterns and tasks of argumentation, hindering its capability to perform a correct evaluation of the acceptability of legal arguments. In order to support that claim, two examples are provided. The concluding remarks broaden the perspective to include the general need for a standard in legal reasoning engines.

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Čyras and Lachmayer: Toward Multidimensional Rule Visualizations

Vytautas Čyras and Friedrich Lachmayer have published Toward Multidimensional Rule Visualizations, in Michał Araszkiewic et al. (Eds.), Problems of Normativity, Rules and Rule-Following (Springer 2015).

Here is the abstract:

This paper reviews visualizations in legal informatics. We focus on the transition from traditional rule-based linear textual representation such as “if A then B” to two- and three-dimensional ones and films. A methodology of visualization with the thought pattern tertium comparationis can be attributed to Arthur Kaufmann. A tertium visualization aims at a mental bridge between different languages. We explore how visualizations are constructed and what types can be found here. Review criteria comprise comprehension, relations, vertical-horizontal arrangement, time-space structure, the focus of attention, education, etc. Picture for review are selected from JURIX 2012 proceedings. We conclude that making visualizations as avante-garde as JURIX projects themselves is a tough task that requires knowledge of law, computing, media, and semiotics.

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Colarusso: Beta release of new programming language for lawyers: QnA Markup; Comments welcome

David Colarusso of Public Counsel Services has released a beta version of a new programming language for lawyers, called QnA Markup, and he welcomes comments on it.

The project’s Website is at: http://www.qnamarkup.org/

The code is available at: https://github.com/colarusso/QnAMarkup

The project’s wiki is available at: https://github.com/colarusso/QnAMarkup/wiki

Here is a description, from the wiki:

QnA is a simple markup language for people with little or no programing experience. It was designed with attorneys in mind and transforms blocks of nested text into interactive QnAs. These QnAs can be used as stand-alone expert systems or in the aid of rule-based document construction (see example). You can find a live implementation of a QnA Markup editor and interpreter at www.QnAMarkup.org. […]

A collection of QnA projects can be found on the Gallery page of this wiki, contributions welcome. […]

HT @Colarusso

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