posted Oct 31, 2003
in Communication Ethics

Communication Ethics book part for ``Cheat Sheet'' for Lawmakers. (This is an automatically generated summary to avoid having huge posts on this page. Click through to read this post.)
  1. Follow the effects. The mechanism is irrelevant. Only effects matter. Tools are inherently neutral. Some may be more easily abused then others, but even guns and nuclear weapons have very legitimate uses. We judge the ethicality of their use based on the effects of their use.
  2. Only humans communicate. Laws that discuss ethical concepts should only reference humans, not machines. Laws referencing machines should be strictly confined to mechanics. The DMCA should not discuss programs, it should discuss whether a person violates copyright. Laws concerning EM frequency allocation must reference specific electrical properties, but should not discuss ethical concepts.
  3. Maintain symmetry. Symmetry as discussed in this essay benefits everyone, big and small. There is no compelling reason to write a law that only large companies can comply with, unless there are legitimate physical reasons (EM spectrum interference, for instance; there can only be one TV Channel 7 in a certain area); such stunting of communication will have negative effects for society as a whole. Everybody is a sender; if not today, then tommorow. Even you, Congressperson.
  4. Complexity is bad. Complex laws will interact very poorly with a complex world.


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