April 20, 2010

Hackin' the SEC's Regulations

I see in the news that the SEC has picked up an idea I proposed way, way, way back in the 1970's when I was in law school, which was to express legal constructs using something resembling a programming language.

Now, back then I merely wanted the ability to write contracts using a structured language things like if-then-else clauses and subroutines with parameters - a kind of glorified templating language.

The SEC apparently has gone further and is considering expressing the dynamics of financial matters using the Python language in regulations.

That reminds me of something I came across a very long time ago:  Early Unix had a blackjack program.  It could be beaten 100% of the time by the simple technique of betting negative dollars and playing to lose.

Which is to say that unless the SEC is willing to engage in the very dark and arcane voodoo of program correctness, and even if it does, the SEC is going to find its regulations being hacked much as we hacked the blackjack game.

Posted by karl at April 20, 2010 1:02 AM