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Platonic

Coding and law

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So... I've been brainstorming about my master thesis for a while. I have to choose a subject next year and I want to do something useful and original. Many people who study law just make some summation about an existing subject. I want to do something different, but it has to be good. Also important: a professor of the law school has to agree on being the promotor of the thesis.

 

So what I thought of after watching a documentary on automation and robotics, is to make something about law and automation. There are many lawyers and there always will be, but I want to do some research on the possibility of automating certain things. I would have to review theoretical aspects: has this been done before, how far has science evolved here? But maybe I could also do something more practical. Since I don't know shit about program language I'm here to ask you... Do you think it's possible to learn programming in a year and develop a simple automatic law program?

 

Vaguely it would mean... A client fills out a form. The program will, based on the key words, select a subject and show the client which lawyer office he should consult. This or a program that actually solves a very specific problem automatically. For example in heritage matters you just fill in who gets heritage from who in the family and the program tells you what you receive if there is no testament.

 

So my questions to you guys: do you think it's feasible in a year (it's worth a half working year so it can take some work)? Do you have any recommendations on which programming language to learn? Should I take lessons or can I do this by self-learning? Do you think I could sell this idea to a professor?

 

Thank you in advance. One of those advantages of being in a large community is this :D

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I have done some programming for about 2 years, and no it wasn't anything to speak of if you compare it with what you are planning, but I know the general basics of the systems.

 

The idea is certainly interesting and will require a lot of work to be put in, but if you are going to be going through with this make sure you have someone to guide you with this as this is not an easy task.

 

An interesting topic, however I foresee some problems with this..

 

Programming is quite straight forward and can be self taught if you have the discipline, and if you focus really hard you might become relatively decent with it in half a year.
However the problem lies within law itself. I currently am doing a study which also involves law, and the problem being with this is that the situation are almost never the same within law which makes it harder to code a program that is 100% trustworthy in its use.

Coding boils down to yes or no, and if yes/no then do this. with law there are almost always different routes and different circumstances which will be extremely hard to incorporate in a system like this.

 

Is it doable? maybe, but like I said, it will take a lot of time and might not work in the end at all or only for a specific region due to local laws and etc.

 

Just my opinion in the matter, and I could be entirely wrong aswell as my programming was with some of the easier code languages and didnt go into these kind of programs.

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Programming is quite straight forward and can be self taught if you have the discipline, and if you focus really hard you might become relatively decent with it in half a year.

However the problem lies within law itself. I currently am doing a study which also involves law, and the problem being with this is that the situation are almost never the same within law which makes it harder to code a program that is 100% trustworthy in its use.

Well that's why I was thinking of going to a very specific branch. A matter where equity doesn't play, where things are pretty straightforward. So I think that would be one of the most difficult parts: finding a well defined area in law. It wouldn't have to be perfect as it's not a doctor thesis but a master thesis, but it would have to be useful and would need to have potential.

 

I still have more than half a year to decide if I'll go through with this. So your opinions on the matter can really come in handy. If people think it's difficult but realistic, I'm going to start schooling myself this semester so I already have an advantage next semester. As you say: I will need someone to guide me a bit. Since law professors know nothing of programming, I think it would be a good idea to follow a course. That way I would have a teacher to ask questions.

 

I prefer working on something difficult but interesting to working on something easy but boring :)

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I figured as much, I'd prefer that aswell :)

my judgement is partially clouded aswell due to the recent passing of my uncle, he left us with an assload of work for his heritage so thats why I got kind of sceptical about that part already. But hey, im hoping other people respond to this with more knowledge of programming to get a better idea of the possibilities.

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Something like a decision tree might be useful to ya. Is an explanation here..

 

Akinator uses a form of it. http://stackoverflow.com/questions/13649646/what-kind-of-algorithm-is-behind-the-akinator-game It asks a series of questions and rather accurately finds the person or character you think of.

 

And a link to Jacksepticeye playing Akinator. Loud volume warning.

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my judgement is partially clouded aswell due to the recent passing of my uncle, he left us with an assload of work for his heritage 

Maybe that's the answer Platonic is looking for..... how about a program that draws up documents based on a series of questions to solve problems like this.  Sure there are software packages for things like wills but maybe it could be taken a step further.  How about a website where you could have your family provide input into your will?  If there are items someone wants from your estate, they could make a case online for why they should get it.  The will could exist almost entirely on line and could change frequently based on new posessions, new relationships, changing relationships etc.  Takes a legal document from being stagnant and outdated to something alive and always current.

 

Ok, may have gotten carried away, just dumping ideas down as they came to me.  This idea needs some polishing but the more I think about it, the more I think it could work.  If anyone tackles this project and makes their million, I want a steak dinner out of the deal!

 

 

Seems like this type of program is all database driven and could be prototyped easily using something like exel.

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That's both very helpful.

Dak, your idea is exactly the kind of creative solution I'm looking for. In that case it wouldn't be feasible because wills always have to be on paper, by notarial deed (at least in Belgium). That's the problem with law, it's very static. But it's also an advantage: it isn't difficult to come up with something that doesn't exist yet. A variation on this idea could actually work. For example, a website that tells you how much of your current patrimonium you can give away in your will (that's actually pretty easy) or one based on judicial analysis to tell you if you qualify for alimony.

Thanks! You still get steak when I make millions, lol.

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