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Semi formal bodies to "vet" legal issues related to new technologies to maybe move the formal legislative process a little faster.

This is from website How many times have we heard "there ought to be a law" or the government can't keep up with...? You name the issues. Changing technology, medical advances, changes in climate? Legislative Reserve provides an opportunity to address these issues.

See the website and see the proposal. I included a little from the site below. But there is a lot more there particularly in the Methodolgy tab. Is it possible for this to work? Would it be helpful?

Just for another tid bit from the site since i have space to do it. See below.


A fully functioning Legislative Reserve with Representatives from every state addressing issues that matter; Taking up issues with the purpose to address ethical, legal, or other concerns that other Legislative bodies do not or can not address; Provide rapidly debated, carefully scrutizied, politically vetted, and reasonably workable solutions to issues at the cutting edge of technology, etc.

And then this.

Beyond Hopes

We believe this could become the model of how Legislative bodies would address those emerging ethical, legal, and other concerns bringing the legislative process into the 21 century while increasing the velocity for those new to the world issues and have them addressed as a society with limits or regulations as deemed appropriate.

The pictures at the top of the Methodology tab shows where we came from over the last two centuries. The pictures on the left show where we believe we should be in ten years.

We see the possibility that governments would recognize the value of such an institution and evenually provide funding for such a program.

Dare we suggest that something similar to the Legislative Reserve could one day replace our centuries old legislative process providing the means to govern the new, dynamic, and emerging American way?

  • Aug 14 2013: All good points. However, I'm not sure we are bettter off with career politician. If someone can get votes to be elected, they must have something going for them. Do I want plumbers looking at problems associated with air traffic control? How is that different then a lawyer looking at it? Or a lawyer looking at medical issues. Everyone has to rely on understanding the data one has available. The real vetting is in the learning the issues and the effect they have on society and the individual. Those committees Bryan talks about does just that. Effectively? Who knows? So I could go for the "plumber" (I think you are using this term to mean not smart enough to understand the issues. I use it to mean any average person willing to run for office.) over the professional politician and let them be educated on the issue. Their loyalities will be more with the people then their next election. And we know while it is the votes that elect them it is the money they get from special interests that provides the means to influence those voters.

    Still I think what is missed in the debate so far is the fact that this body isn't arguing the issues we keep hearing about in politics now, but those upcoming issues to do with technology that can effect society and social order. Issues not yet on the public radar and thus politicians don't really care about; yet. We are just now learning about how the internet, tweeter, etc are effecting privacy rights. Had this group been functioning 5 or 8 years ago, this would have been a great topic for them. And by now we may have had clearer and more functional laws to balance both security and privacy. What new emerging technologies are there that will in 3 to 10 years need clarification or restrictions for safety, etc? These are the topics for this group, not immigration, racism, or budgets. Who in those committees are looking at these kinds of issues? For me it's not adding layers, it is adding forethought and thinking ahead
  • Aug 18 2013: "there ought to be a law" is exactly how our system is supposed to work. The entire principle behind a free country is that the government doesn't make laws unless 1) people ask for them or 2) there is an obvious, detrimental social problem that needs to be addressed. Allow the government to make laws preemptively and what you end up with is communism.
  • Aug 18 2013: Yes, the current system starts the research after something has gone too far and some block of people has already started to freak out about the issue. This could be a way to get a little ahead of the curve, though it doesn't make the political decisions any easier. I think a key role in this would also be to better communicate the issues to Congress. Very few members of Congress have any technical backgrounds and in an attempt to remain impartial many of the reports they get tend to be needlessly smothered in jargon that even people with technical backgrounds find hard to get through. Any improvement to the communication gap should only be helpful to the process.
  • Aug 18 2013: 1968 to 1974 computers were the size of a room and couldn't store the information my pocket calculator stores. There were no smart phone apps. There weren't even satellite phones. Computers were little more than an academic curiosity. The US Constitution doesn't offer any protections to the people of the world, only to US citizens. As for violating rights of US citizens, it is still uncertain as to whether collecting commercially available information is actually a violation of anything. Industry uses this sort of information on people all the time. Walmart is using this information to track customers in their stores to see what they are looking at and how they are travelling within the store. Half the cookies on your computer do nothing more than track what internet sites you visit. Wireless communications have no privacy rights because they can be freely intercepted by anyone at any time. Your phone records are not yours, but the property of the phone company and they are sold to a variety of other companies for research and marketing purposes. At best, I see these programs being changed only slightly in the next 10 years. I think it is funny that people are paying for encryption services when the NSA is primarily interested only in who you communicate with and for how long. The content of the communication is for the most part unimportant and requires a separate and specific warrant for a US citizen, and nothing at all for a foreigner whether they are in the US or not.
  • Aug 17 2013: I would like to see a scientific advisory board that could do something like this, but I am not sure what good it would do. They would report to something like the House Science and Technology committee, with at least 2 current members that have no interest in science except to stop it at all costs, and to misrepresent it to their own political gain. In the last elections cycle we saw them spout the most ridiculous and inaccurate things and claim that science backed them up. As I said, I would like to have a small group that worked with the National Academy of Science to communicate scientific issues to Congress, but I fear, as with so many other things, it would fall on deaf ears.
    • Aug 18 2013: Again we already have something similar to what you suggest. And you accurately state that little is done with it. Partly because there is little or no public interest in it, at least yet. This is why I wonder if the Legislative Reserve idea may help with that. Because it is discussed in a more open forum, easily accessible on line more will discover the "conversation" about the issue. I'm sure some topics will gather public interest and maybe media attention. Also through a voting process politicians can gain some idea of how it may play with the public. Therefore, they will have some idea about its political play.

      But then it will of course eventually end up in a committee where who knows how it will go. But if enough others learned about the issue via the Legislative Reserve, other legislative bodies would more likely respond to the added pressure in a more "positive" manner.

      Walter thanks for the comments.
  • Aug 14 2013: More or less Mike Worse maybe If it doesn't affest an insurance company they won't even talk to you.
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    Aug 13 2013: Sounds good on paper. Looking at a real world problem, How do you compensate the produces of Oil to offset their loses if Natural Gas were to become more available and in demand? Their entire empire and fortune are based on Oil. They would, and are, fighting every endeavored to make this change happen. Those who own the natural gas are not the same people who own the Oil. The champions in this fight are the Legislatures that inhabit our hallowed halls of legal justice.

    I suggest we change the requirements for Public office so only qualified people can run, that is, create a technological form of government. We don't want the plumber doing brain surgery. Why should we tolerate a Hollywood actor deciding how we should upgrade our sewer systems?

    A certification process or degree might create the foundation for a more streamlined system to compliment a process that lends itself towards solving social and infrastructural problems. If we give better tools to the same inexperienced and ignorant people, we just create more opportunity for failure.
    • Aug 13 2013: Bryan and John,

      I think the idea was to only have this "body" address those new and emerging technologies and such. Of course if it works well it could become a model for our current legislative bodies. This won't take the politics out of politics, but it may be more ahead of the legal issues that courts decide until their decisions become untolerable and then people rise up and demand change.

      It is one thought I was intrigued with. Why are we still using a 1600's technology in the 21st century. We meet, we argue, we delay, we avoid, we again delay, and then one day we vote. The propsoed idea was to get new problems, not old debates, addressed early. And who knows as it states on the Start up page Beyond Hopes, a new set of voters involved and lead the way to a new future in law making.

      Of course it will have numerous problems just like anything attempting to figure out a societial good. Hope you have a great day and thanks for the comments.
      • Aug 13 2013: And the appropriate place to "address" such things is through committees in currently extant agencies or through committees or subcommittees of Congress. Adding YET ANOTHER LAYER to government is both foolish and futile.

        As for a "1600s technology in the 21st century": Dictatorship as we understand it is a modern invention, perfected in the middle of the 20th century. It is MUCH more efficient than dirty old Democracy. Do you REALLY want to replace the old-fashioned with the new?
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        Aug 13 2013: Still, a body of idiots will do little more with the same process or information than the current body of idiots.

        Plumbers looking at problems associated with air traffic control might not do such a good job.

        Why hire agencies who hire experts when we should already have the experts to begin with. We are not going to get rid of Congress. That will never happen.
        • Aug 14 2013: This is why the various agencies are supposed to hire experts. Again, there is NO NEED AT ALL to add another layer of government. It will just be another drain on money and resources and another way for Congress to avoid responsibility.
  • Aug 12 2013: I dislike that idea thoroughly. There is no need to pad a legislature with extra layers. In the USA, while Congress might have ultimate authority over regulations, Congress routinely delegates the day-to-day business of regulation to the Executive branch, though various departments and agencies. These agencies need to be brought to heel by Congress and be required to have personnel in authority who are conversant with current technology. However, with few exceptions (NIH being one) This is not done. USDA has a mixed mandate and its entrenched bureaucrats vigorously oppose applying real science to agricultural and food safety. EPA is a purely political entity that also is extremely hostile to science. FCC is run by people who probably still think Amos & Andy is on the air. The problem is not going to be solved by creating a quasi-Congress. The problem is within the agencies, and it has to be cleaned up within the agencies.
    • Aug 17 2013: The premise is not to create a proto Congress, but to create a group that can evaluate new technology issues and present them to Congress in a way they can understand. Much of this is done in committee already, but by lobbyists and their pet scientists that only present one side of any issue.
      As for your tirade against the executive branch, you obviously have little idea how the government actually works and what Congress is actually capable of. The EPA is given a law to restrict the disposal of 250 chemical with some vague rules. The EPA proposes specific rules and distributes them to industry and the public. They get comments back and tweak the rules. Then they send a report to Congress outlining the rules and their progress. The report is thrown away because Congress has no clue what they are looking at or they don't care. The EPA applies their rules and conducts studies to select their 250 chemicals. They send notifications to the public and industry and Congress and get waves of comments back. Public hearings are held, details changed, more notices and hearings and changes and 5 years later they produce a final rule. Congress has been given annual reports and members have sent letters defending one industry or another and they may also have passed some laws during this time to exempt those industries from the laws, such as the mining industry or the agricultural industry. All the reports to Congress join the first one in the circular file. Congress doesn't have the capability to understand or manage the amount of data required to micromanage the EPA, let alone every federal agency. You are talking about 535 people that are on vacation 2/3 of the year with little or no experience in the civil service micromanaging over 1.5 million civil servants and likely another 1.5 million contractors that keep our federal government moving. It isn't possible and Congress wouldn't do it if they could.
      • Aug 18 2013: GAH! It's no wonder that these TED "conversations" amount to nothing. How can I spell it out any more simply: THE APPROPRIATE BODIES ALREADY EXIST. We have agencies that can advise Congress. Congressmen have technical staffers. THE LAST THING WE NEED IS YET MORE BUREAUCRACY! How can anyone be so stupid as to not understand this? Please provide the CONCLUSIVE PROOF that this additional group's reports will not just be ignored. Well? WHERE IS THE PROOF?

        Dogmatic stupidity is worse than ignorant stupidity.
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          Aug 18 2013: Bryan, Slow down. If you thought that TED conversations amounted to nothing you would not have posted this conversation on TED.

          IMO, you are seeing people who have lost trust in our system. Senators and Representatives who come in wealthy and leave really rich ... That they can be sold or bought ... that the party in power can go around congress with Executive Orders .... The government is growing and they see this as MORE government ....

          Since they see government as corrupt .... they do not see how this would stop the corruption ... Big money is the real power ... I contribute to your election in a big way and you owe me .... ahhh ... the problems of bought politicians.
        • Aug 18 2013: There are no "technical staffers" in Congress. Staffers study how government works not how computers work. They push papers, pass messages, schedule meetings and press briefings. Virtually none of them have ever had more than a couple "technical" courses in their lives and fewer have any real world experience in a technical field. They have spent most of their short careers in government learning how to play the system. There are government agencies that report to Congress on technical matters, but they do it upon request from Congress, generally. Congress will send them a request for information and they will produce reports and briefs for the Congressmen. No one is really looking at where the technology is getting past the legal boundaries until something big happens and they rush to play catch up. Even then, most Congressmen have no idea what to do with the issues because some of them still think the internet is some network of vacuum tubes passing notes. They make decisions based on this ignorance and then fund reports that back up their beliefs instead of demonstrating the truth of the matter. If you have any doubts, then explain to me the scientific basis behind the term "gateway drug".
  • Aug 7 2013: Milo Kelley

    I'd like to write about Executive Orders and similar....

    President Obama is a great speaker and writer.

    But compare his abilities with Harry S Truman, and he cannot make the grade.
    President Truman's Executive Orders and similar, were outstanding efforts used
    to return our Nation from War to Peace. A daily record of a hard working President.

    As a coach, I would have selected Truman over Obama because --
    Truman understood that his Presidential Authority did not need be proclaimed.
    His just was...

    I Compared Truman's Executive Orders -- with Obama's and Obama's series
    since 2009 of Presidential Policy Directives that along with Presidential Study
    Directives, replaced National Security Presidential Directives as instruments
    for communicating presidential decisions about national security policies of the
    United States. (a mouthful)
    I spent some of last night reading Executive Orders from 5 recent Presidents.
    I focused upon those EO's that were written immediately after each one's
    presidential inauguration.

    Following his last inauguration, Obama's CYBERSECURITY, was one of the first
    issues addressed, and the subject had been gone over with a Lawyer's fine tooth comb.

    All prior President's Executive Orders pertaining to the subject matter, revoked.
    I suppose we all have a style.
    • Aug 17 2013: To be honest, cybersecurity is a fairly recent term. Bush Sr. is the earliest President that may have had something similar under a different name. It is possible Bush Jr. had something like this with that term actually used. You also seem to ignore the difference between WWII and the Afghan and Iraq wars. It isn't like the entire nation mobilized and sacrificed for these wars. For most it was at best a minor inconvenience in a part of the world they didn't often think about. You are also talking about Presidents that cut their teeth in the larges war in human history, not an entirely fair comparison. If you want to see some trite legislation, check out the one that created the Department of Homeland Security. It creates a new department within our government, from two dozen other groups, that is very expensive and powerful. It was created with just a couple pages of double spaced text. Moving the Coast Guard from DoT to DHS was done in one sentence with no explanation or preamble. Congress created a whole department with almost no human resources or acquisition group and no people with any experience reporting directly to Congress to beg for money or defend themselves in hearings. EOs are often not very detailed for a reason. They are usually more a mission statement than a specific directive. It is not intended to be fine prose.
      • Aug 18 2013: Walter, thank you for your input.
        Obama has been pretty specific in his mission statements.

        I decided to go and find the responsible people who were at the beginning
        of the NSA Prism, XKeyscore, GIG, US Army IA, etc. and their meta-data
        suppliers AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Google, Yahoo, etc.

        Listing their names I began my searches.

        Many of those who started the technologies at the beginning 1968-1974 have
        since moved on to private enterprise, retired, or are dead. But their work left
        behind only grew.

        The political frameworks such as outlined in both Bush and Obama's presidential
        Directives and Executive Orders, promote these prohibitively expensive programs
        that collect, control, and store, meta-data spoken and written by US citizens (and
        peoples Worldwide), contrary to the 1st and 4th Amendments of our Constitution.

        These are real people involved. These are real Politicians involved.
        These are Terrible things that they do.

        Congress can vacation only so long.
  • Aug 6 2013: Perhaps Politicians and their Staffs should be required to learn how to Govern.

    After 237 years, our government seems to have become awash in paper-work.
    No legislator ever reads the legislation. Instead staff interoperates with NIEM.

    For those of an inquisitive mind, I recommend starting here.

    3.News and Events

    Quick Links:
    What is NIEM?
    Technical Overview
    Tools Catalog
    External Links:
    U.S. Department of Justice
    U.S. DOJ Privacy Policy
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
    Information Sharing Environment (ISE)

    This is an interesting pathway our US Government has turned into.

    Can it be, we citizens, have allowed our Democracy to create such a thing?
    • Aug 6 2013: Interesting concept. I hadn't heard of this before. If I understand your comments correctly, you are not in favor of this. Once again the idea of developing common understanding and ensuring common means of communciation on the surface sounds good. This may be overboard. It took me well over 30 minutes just to figure out how it was to be used and how it helped communications. I think it is a means to "fence" people out. If you are not in the "in crowd" then you may not be able to get your opinions considered. If you can't understand the language, you are at a disadvantage.

      NIEM is a good example of a good idea turning out not so helpful in practice. I posted this post because the idea of a Legislative Reserve as proposed sounds reasonable and good to me, but maybe not be such a good thing in practice. I hope to hear more about whether it could work and why or why not.

      Thanks for your comments.
      • Aug 13 2013: Every additional layer and element of government is an additional way something can fail and an additional way that Congress and the President can avoid accountability. "Don't blame us, it's the RESERVE Legislature, we do what they recommend". "Don't blame us, it's the legislature", they have all the technical power. So on, back and forth, forever.
  • Aug 6 2013: Maybe fast is not always better.
    • Aug 6 2013: George, yes maybe fast is not always better, but in some cases having some is better than nothing. Then again, maybe not always. The idea of figuring out how things would work without leagl involvment could be one option to consider in the debate. It may turn out to not need something new. And it may turn out to be covered under legal precedence already. Again, for emerging technology finding common legal ground early and quickly may be appropriate. I think the idea was to address issues not already in the legislative radar.
      • Aug 7 2013: Isn't this constantly going on at corporate headquarters,NGO's , embassies, etc. This sort of reminds me of mediation in addition to negotiations.
        • Aug 7 2013: And you are correct. But this is adding the addition of a view on what the poeple are interested in (elected Respresentatives) and of course idealisticly looking out for the common good. Corporate headquaters, NGOs, embassies, etc, do not allow average people to be involved in process of determining their position on an issue and they usually arrive at a position inconflict with what the people would consider the common good.. Of course if this would ever actually become something useful, the special interests will flock to it also.
      • Aug 8 2013: You're right average people get left out. consider property damage only in a car wreck. In my experience - If there are two insurance companies they can send it to a third company for binding arbitration which is fast and cheap.
        But if you don't have collision or whatever, T O O B A D They won't bother with you so you'll just go away.
        • Aug 13 2013: This "binding arbitration" is done by companies who only do business with the insurance companies, which means they rule in favor of insurance companies, maybe a compromise between the two companies, but screw the customer.