Wednesday, May 6, 2009 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Cato Unbound Debate: Lessig's Code at Ten (Part 2: Zittrain response)

As I mentioned on Monday, the folks over at Cato Unbound have put together an online debate about the impact of Lawrence Lessig's Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace as it turns 10 this year.

The opening essay from Declan McCullagh, "What Larry Didn't Get," took Lessig to task for favoring rule by "technocratic philosopher kings" over the spontaneous invisible hand of code. In Round 2 of the debate, Harvard's Jonathan Zittrain comes to Lessig's defense and suggests that the gap between Lessig and libertarians is not as wide as Declan suggests:

The debate between Larry and the libertarians is more subtle. Larry says: I'm with you on the aim -- I want to maintain a free Internet, defined roughly as one in which bits can move between people without much scrutiny by the authorities or gatekeeping by private entities. Code's argument was and is that this state of freedom isn't self-perpetuating. Sooner or later government will wake up to the possibilities of regulation through code, and where it makes sense to regulate that way, we might give way -- especially if it forestalls broader interventions.

Run over to Cato Unbound to read the rest. My response will be going up next (on Friday) and then Prof. Lessig's will be up next Monday.

posted by Adam Thierer @ 3:16 PM | Books & Book Reviews , Generic Rant , Innovation , Internet