Lawrence Lessig's Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace turns 10 this year and the folks over at Cato Unbound have put together an online debate about the book and its impact on cyberlaw, which I am honored to be taking part in. The discussion begins today with a lead essay from Declan McCullagh of CNet News and then continues throughout the week with responses from Harvard's Jonathan Zittrain, myself, and then Prof. Lessig himself.
Declan's lead essay, "What Larry Didn't Get," starts things off with a bang:
[Lessig] prefers what probably could be called technocratic philosopher kings, of the breed that Plato's The Republic said would be "best able to guard the laws and institutions of our State -- let them be our guardians." These technocrats would be entrusted with making wise decisions on our behalf, because, according to Lessig, "politics is that process by which we collectively decide how we should live."
One response might be that the right philosopher-kings have not yet been elevated to the right thrones. But assuming perfection on the part of political systems (especially when sketching plans to expand their influence) is less than compelling. The field of public choice theory has described many forms of government failure, and there's no obvious reason to exempt Internet regulation from its insights about rent-seeking and regulatory capture.