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Toward a Closer Integration of Law and Computer Science

By Christopher S. Yoo

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 57 No. 1, Pages 33-35

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The rate of technological change during the past few decades has been breathtaking. End users have adopted the Internet, smartphones, and tablets faster than any other consumer electronics product in history. The rapid diffusion of these technologies has transformed the way people work, shop, learn, play, and communicate.

Major technological changes inevitably have an impact on law. Just as the printing press revolutionized copyright and the telephone prompted new approaches to the Fourth Amendment, the digitization of all forms of content and the emergence of the Internet Protocol as the dominant platform for communication have led courts and legislatures to reexamine a wide range of legal issues.


CACM Administrator

The following letter was published in the Letters to the Editor in the April 2014 CACM (http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2014/4/173227).
--CACM Administrator

In his Viewpoint "Toward a Closer Integration of Law and Computer Science" (Jan. 2014), Christopher S. Yoo raised an important point about how the law and technological change interact but emphasized only one dimension of what could be called the "social embedding" of technology. Legal concerns are an important aspect of software design, especially if the software stores and processes sensitive personal data about users. However, in order to increase the acceptability and acceptance of a software product, more aspects must be considered during development. Some (such as data privacy and usability) are well represented in most projects. Others (such as users trust in technology, incentives to participate in collective activities, inclusion of users with disabilities, and ethical and sociological challenges) have only begun to attract attention due to recent technological advancements (such as context-aware services, self-adaptive systems, and autonomously acting agents). The crucial point for software developers is these aspects of social embedding could lead to conflicting software design requirements, so should be addressed together in a systematic and integrated development process. Because society demands it, truly multidisciplinary design thinking will become increasingly important in the future.

Kurt Geihs
Kassel, Germany

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