The increasing power of computation is the most important force of our age. In Law’s Algorithm, written with Steve Wasick, I apply information theory to demonstrate that greater computational capacity can change the optimal form of law. Because such increased capacity allows law to be more easily discovered it encourages the use of bottom-up forms of legal ordering, like the common law and standards. These forms of law have advantages in permitting law to evolve as it is applied to new facts and situations. But in comparison to fixed rules they also have disadvantages, because their application is more uncertain. As legal search and prediction improves through the computation, however, the degree of this disadvantage declines.
Consider a law that requires citizens to drive at a particular speed—a classic rule.