About seven years ago, I was asked in a project’s application interview, why I am doing IT instead of practicing law. I was astonished about the question and had no quick answer at hand. It was just the way my life went on. It was a question of need and demand, of money and ability.
From my perspective, IT and Law was not so different as the questioner supposed. From my perception and everyday practice, it is nearly the same. But, I was not able to answer with one or two striking sentences, those days. I carried the question with me since then. I guess, I found common ground, finally.
What do have politicians and software developers in common?
/terms and conditions
As long as I remember, I am not finally decided about my focus point.
As I needed to decide what to study, it was between the options Business and Law.
I decided to go to an University where Law was offered with an decent Business focus.
As I was studying, I was not very interested in Civil Law which is the main focus in Business, but in Public Law, while I was havily struggling in (German) Criminal Law.
Now, some decades later, I use what I mainly learned in Criminal Law to explain law at all. I love the (German) Criminal Law because of its systematic. And exactly that was a point my most love-hated professor emphasized in the early semesters. I never passed a test at him – but from this, I learned the most.
Usual passing quotes in seasonal exams of Jurists are between 60-80% … failure.
There are (were?) 18 “points” to get. 4 points are needed to pass. We said “4 wins!” showing up our hands (without thumb), signaling whether we were amoung the passing few or the failing many.
There are people, rated 15 points and above in their final exams. To some of them I came near – physically.
The rest of the juristical world operates between 4 and 10 points which is more than fair enough. Remember, rating was not spread linear.
You need to show the basics to pass. About 80% of the students starting their education were not able to reach even this goal of lowest hanging fruits.
At my most loved-hated professor, failing-quotes oscillated between 88 and 96%. A double digit result was nearly impossible.
Every complain about results, he quitted publically saying
The more intense pain is felt,
the more intense experience of education will be.
– Prof. Dr. J. Schulz
This sounds very hard, especially in context of Criminal Law. But, as the very few, very bright minds in Criminal Law sphere, he was a tremendous handsome guy who invested a lot in personal relationships.
Students who were talented enough, were eager to work for him. They told of legendary “parties” at the end of the Business days during the week and behind closed office doors.
The professor was friend of alcohol and heavy smoker. He died by a heart attack on tennis court in his early sixties.
Later, I finalized my exam pre-requisites at a colleague of him at first strike.
5 points were more than needed to win.
Is this the story?
Well, it was the introductional part to it.
I use a certain scheme on my blog-post. Idea behind it originates from those times of studying law.
First, I scope blogposts by giving terms and conditions. I provide my understanding to create common ground. You can follow, question or reject my point of view. It is completely up to You to agree. But, without declaration in the beginning, context is capable of being misunderstood.
Sometimes, You need this misunderstandings. The genre making use from it is called comedy and relates on a sense of humor. But, humor needs a decent understanding of the right to get the point behind something placed wrong.
So, let us get a shared understanding of some words before joy can arise from use of this understanding.
You will find some explainations for the word code. Some of them can be used as definition. The most abstract and therefore most helpful I found in this context is
“A system of symbols and rules that serve as instructions.”
By symbols (like letters and pictogrammes) the instructions are conserved in written form. “Instructions” create the common ground. “The law” instructs citizens how to behave – “the code” instructs a computer how to react on given parameters.
In both cases, objects and intended results need definition and interpretation to act upon.
A definition declares and describes the limits of content contained in and represented by a name. A name often represents a meaning rather than a definition.
By defining, a name can be used by everybody who has access to this definition.
Clarity about a definition is essential to prevent misunderstandings.
By declaration in the beginning of code, a definition can be used in following sub-ordinated sequences.
In case of computer code, You define by declaration of variables or schemes, first.
In law You use common (often unclear defined) expressions or declare in the first paragraphs of a legal code.
Instructions are given after declaration of the validity in context.
There are rules applicable in different stages of a decision process.
The ruleset for application is the most obvious one – “IF … THEN”.
It contains a limiting condition (“IF”) and is followed by instruction/s (“THEN”) in case conditions are met.
In combination, these parts describe a rule. A number of rules set in a context is the ruleset within a text of law, programme code or any other systematic context like nature.
In real life, the “IF”-side is not so easy to handle as it often seems to be. For the correct application of a ruleset, recognition of the conditions where it applies, is crucial.
In industrial context this is mostly eliminated and often extinguished. Often, it si (was?) enough to show manual application in a time and space-context.
In a complex world, You need to understand determining parameters of the context to distinguish between “applicable” and “not applicable”. The “IF” side needs abstraction from a single context.
The “THEN”-side of the instruction set is also easy, only in normed context like mathematics. In real world, a result is not only a number or a word.
It is a coated surface with inclusions in one area. It is a scratch on a display. It is a line of stitches in fabric that has an uneven appearance. It is a room temperature which is too cold for some women and too hot for some men. And results from one action set conditions for the next – and so on, and so on.
To determine between OK and NOK, You need parameters to judge against.
Is the recognized result acceptable?
You need acceptance criteria to differ between in and out.
You can learn from watch and sight. Everytime You are in a certain position and some other factors apply, something happens.
But, there are connections between cause and effect. And sometimes it is just correlation without a single cause to name exactly.
“Everytime it rains, internet connection of the accommodation breaks down.”
– What might be the cause? Is data transferred on sight-basis? Or is it just all people doing nothing except internet-surfing for whether forecasts, video-streaming etc. instead of playing outside in the fields?
You need to learn about causality, correlation and errors in first hypothesis to gain wisdom, serenity and humor to stand reflection of Yourself and others.
Once, You are on this path, You will applicate more carefully than before.
Imagine, You learned and got an understanding about names, parameters, correlations and all this stuff.
Imagine, You are able to describe a ruleset Yourself. The more abstract and general it is, the more possibilities to applicate exist. Especially in future, there will be conditions that might apply, but weren’t thought of as particular rulesets were defined.
Once, ruler and applicant of a ruleset will drift so far away in terms of space, time and understanding, that there are more than one meaning is imaginable from given connection of words.
This is the moment where interpretation occurs on stage. As a Jurist, You learn to interpret from bare meaning of word, possible sense from connection of words, systematic context in relation to all other rules “around” and historical context to find the true will of the ruler.
What was meant?
What is intended to result from it?
Is it still valid to apply these intentions in current context of changed reality deriving from changes in law, changes in science, technology, behavior of people and politics?
IT-guys are easy people in comparison. If a command could not be understood, it is a syntax error or You haven’t loaded the correct interpreter, yet.
This approach lead me to insights. Interpreters from my point of view are learned patterns (codes). These codes are connected with a particular behavior on recognition of this code. The mental part is often called attitude while the recognizable action from it is often called action pattern or habit.
If You face the same occurrence of signals and (wanted) results Your mind will re-locate the action pattern from consciousness to sub-consciousness. In physical action this sometimes is called “muscle memory”.
In IT, this is done by compilation and building machine-readable executable code from written letters. In “debug mode”, programmes text is easy to understand by people, but need to be translated to machine code at runtime. This translation slows down.
Execution of machine-readable code is many times faster than runtime translation of high-level languages like JAVA, VB and other code-systems, readable by humans.
Once You are sure to be right about the code, You will release.
In IT, often You will compile sourcecode to speed up execution.
Context makes an action wanted, target-orientated, valid, legal, opportune or wrong and incorrect. So, recognition of a context is crucial to apply a valid action pattern which will be identified as right or correct by other people sharing or judging the same context.
Context is build from some identifiers like objects, properties and subjects acting in a nearfield of space and time or a connection build from topic, interest or family or company relationships.
Conflicts often arise from being forced into an unaccepted context or simply by deviations in understanding of an experienced context.
In a context, it is important to understand who (subject) is acting on what item/s (objects).
Items in a context can also be imagined exclusively.
In this case these item/s are objectives of Your mental activities.
Those who act are subjects in the particular context. When context switchs, a subject can change to an object and back to a subject. It depends on perception and declaration where one context ends and another begins. This is often hard to tell. So, rules to identify contexts are helpful.
Declarations, manners, experiences, learnings – all this helps to perfom context switches with ease and least loss of energy from switching.
Methods are action patterns applied by a subject to one or several objects. A method for itself is neither good or bad, it is neutral.
Applied context makes a method suitable, helpful, correct or the opposite.
A result should be well formed, comprehensive and reproducible.
That’s easier to achieve for IT-processing than for actors at court.
Why? The IT-machine-processor needs formalized and by that stablilized input while actors and facts in front of the judge are comparable and equal at one hand, but influenced of every event around them. You cannot process the same trial two times the same – but it is attempted every day with differing success.
/what the heck?
Since the early days of processing events silicon-based, there are some people dreaming of IT-processed judgements in terms of law. They hope on objectivity and confirmability in processing trials but missing the fundamental point.
It is not the process and the results of applied rulesets (given law) which prevents objectivity in every case. It is the input that makes it hard to compare and mostly impossible to automate a trial.
Every circumstance of the unique case needs to be recognized and judged in individual context, not abstracted and generalized.
There are a lot of cases that can be automated and judged in automatic processing.
As I heard it nearly 25 years ago, my professor said
98% of every interaction in life is processed well,
based on given law.
– Prof. Dr. T. Baums
Courts are needed only for the rest.
While most of the 2%-rest ends in compound, only the fewest cases were finalized by judgement. That’s the reason why we take our time for trials while we are hurrying closing everyday contracts like ordering a coffee to go.
Trials are exception, coffee to go is …
But, this is even not the point. Jurists are the administrators of law and citizens are its users.
Creators of law are polititians as they act within parliaments as representants of citizens who elected them from the political orientation they stand for. And all of that influences each other in changing roles all the time. The only direction You can predict is progression in time scale. Everything else could be predicted as “there will be something”, but You cannot predict exact character and position of this “something”.
It is Uncertainty originating from pure complexity – which is not complicated.
There are paralles to the software industry. Customers select “parties” like Apple, Google, Microsoft (alphabetical order) by opting for their products. Developers in these eco-systems represent user’s needs in deciding about UI-design, input fields, customizability of rulesets and all this stuff.
Once, there was a big local representation of all this – hosting and coding on premise. Nowadays, operations are centralized – cloud computing.
In people’s organization, local government – cities, small states – was centralized in conglomerates like federated states and federations of federations like the US in the beginning, UN or EU (chronological order).
Did You ever wondered about the parallels between organizing public communities, companies and IT?
There are some fundamentals shared between. First, all are made by human species, based on common understanding, and shared purpose of code.
Also shared between these areas are abstractions from role models.
Some are the architects, the designers of systems.
Some other decide about application – parliament, Board of Directors, developers.
Users, staff and citizen gain benefit from application of rules while policemen and judges care for the law and correct results where needed when ancient understanding of code conflicts with current reality originating from constant change.
/it is all about progression
Life is about progressing from processing. It is all about input, ruleset and output.
It is astounding what people made from this simple relationship over time.
Once a while, there are some technology breakthroughs which boost societies towards a new evolutionary stage. From my perception and estimation, “Blockchain” can be the next big thing following “Internet”. “IoT” is another hot candidate. Maybe there are shared aspects between those topics I could not get into order and relationship to each other – now.
/is automation what You need in the end?
Automation unleashes ressources which are bound to repeatable task execution. As long there is demand for results of this task execution, it could be a good idea to automate.
- what, if You automate most of Your repeatable tasks?
- what, if You reflect about the pre-conditions before applying a ruleset just because You are familiar with?
- what, if You consciously refuse machine based execution of automatable task?
What can processed all the same can be processed by machines. That is no law of nature – I used the word “can” not “is”. It is just the way we did it since the early days of industrialization.
The tremendous achievements we earn as a society from industrialization made most of us consuming them in silence. Some believe, everything must be automated. This is very common understanding between engineers.
Most people do not bother at all.
But there is a small amount of people who question.
Most of them concentrate on the ruleset. “Given law needs to be stricter!” they say.
And very few people – artists and some philosophers – question the input-side of the universal relationship.
Does this ruleset really apply?
You can judge value and beauty of an ruleset (algorithm, set of laws, artwork principle) by the number of mandatory configuration items, exceptions and sub-routines and the scope it applies to.
The easier a ruleset is to understand, the more universal it could be applied, the more beauty and perfection is perceived in it.
/save our energy – prevent conflicts
All of us face conflicts during our days. Some are easy to handle, some are fundamental.
Before struggling with conflicts, it is often a good idea to invest in common understanding before applying something which is not shared between all involved parties.
One possibility to prevent misunderstandings is working out defining variables of the context, first.
Keep rulesets to apply as simple and general applicable as possible.
It is easy to add, but it very hard to remove, reduce and keep away.
So, challenge in life is to balance between expansion and reduction in the very small area of an optimal, ideal state.
Make it simple.
But not simplier!
You get access to whatever I estimate being worth to share on my twitter-channel.
- Prof. Dr. Joachim Schulz, r.i.p. (DE)
- Prof. Dr. Theodor Baums (DE)
- Oliver ten Hoevel
- The people behind netresearch
And many more …
May all Your needs vanish into reality.
Live long and prosper.
Life runs in circles. Some are smaller, some are bigger.
In the end, there is no end – only another beginning.
Talk to whom it might concern. And share what matters to You!
All published images are selected from public available sources. Images themselves were marked to as “CC”.
This post is done privately in a non-commercial conext and therefore, I am pretty sure about legally correctness of my actions.
If there might be a violation of any rights reserved, please let me know and in case of truth, I will correct immediately.