Hyperfast Analysis of Legislation (HAL)

I can envision something like cause/effect graphing & a subversion repository for legislative bills to track changes & notify the public when something changes.  Also what is needed is something compares the versions where a Senate & House bill are disparate that the differences can be compared & analyzed.

VCS (version control systems) are currently used to track ever changing program code for software systems. They can also be used to control the documents which declare the specifications & processes required to  develop the software.  There are many. M$ has SourceSafe.  There is Subversion & CVS & many others.

It is fairly imperative that we know exactly the status & content of any bill being analyzed so that we don't waste time analyzing & exposing something that is not real. Version control will frustrate attempts to pull a shell game on the public as to where & what the laws contain.

Secondly, analysis must yield a demystified exposure of what is in the bills.  Currently there is legalese in the form of an outline - most of which is usually spoken in general terms to be implemented later. If possible the implementation documents for the laws should also be tracked & exposed.

Cause/effect graphing unconceals the cases & if then else nature of the law so that exactly what causes what action & what fines etc.

This is a working document for a potential project.

Tags

  1. hal
  2. rdfa

Comments


Seth says
choy 2009-10-06 13:34:54 12253
Well take a look at The Senate Finance Committee website. Still 259 pages in a pdf ammended. Have you got another reference before the so-called vote?

Well yeah you're right this is the new ammended bill written in conceptual language.  Apparently it doesn't get mucked up by the lawyers until after it is passed out of committee.

Mark de LA says
I wonder if RDFa or a web based CyberMind would assist us in getting the bills digested & analyzed faster.  The greatest problem now is determining what exactly an analysis would look like & what should it expose.  Follow the money is my first instinct.  In particular, besides a CBO analysis, already done most of the time, there should be exposed the implication of policy which will incur expenses at all levels, state, local & otherwise entities of the people.

Seth says
Well RDFa won't help now.  There are prolly only 10 or 20 pages on the web that have been marked up with it to date and they are for example.  When as and if this ever gets implemented for news stories we will be at least 5 years down the road.  I'm seriously thinking of implementing it for the catalog, but now there is a problme with which vocabulary to use.  When we get to the news you can multiply this problem with which vocabulary times 100.  Again i would suggest  more of a Wikipedia style manual effort.  That might bootstrap and encourage the news providers to markup their reports.

Mark de LA says
Perhaps a cyc corpus or other kind devoted to the legislative vocabulary & government speak might be one place to start.

Mark de LA says
Joshua Tauberer's Blog on Civic Hacking & the Semantic Web & Visualization gives us some clues on the magnitude of the problem. He is the guy who gave us govtrack.us.
The sheer volume of data is one thing. Making sense of it is another.

Seth says

One thing to note about Tauberer's efforts is that his most ambitious dreams aspire only to analyze the regular repetitive data about the legislation, such as who voted for it, and not the legislation itself.  Not only is there no parsed data from the government for the legislation itself, but the very creation of that kind of data, in that kind of domain, is a task which has yet to be achieved by our species.  Cyc tried it; but we don't hear much from them anymore, event though they still have a website.

Lots of luck with HAL.

Mark de LA says
MR 2009-09-26 16:52:23 12253
MR 2009-09-26 16:49:40 12253
I wonder if the OWL (Web Ontology Language) is worth while in this endeavor? I would like to see some serious examples of it's use in a test example or blueprint example.
Maybe some such examples are in the Owl guide such as the Wine Portal.
One such fascination is I can import OWL & RDF into theBrain & create an export of the brain which could theoretically be referenced in an fbi link & run on it's server much like the embedded mindmaps on theBrain website.

Seth says
MR 2009-09-26 16:56:25 12253
MR 2009-09-26 16:52:23 12253
MR 2009-09-26 16:49:40 12253
I wonder if the OWL (Web Ontology Language) is worth while in this endeavor? I would like to see some serious examples of it's use in a test example or blueprint example.
Maybe some such examples are in the Owl guide such as the Wine Portal.
One such fascination is I can import OWL & RDF into theBrain & create an export of the brain which could theoretically be referenced in an fbi link & run on it's server much like the embedded mindmaps on theBrain website.
With the basic RDF vocabulary you can't say very much at all.  It's a very small vocabulary with only one word that has any real heft: rdf:type.  Owl extends that vocabulary a bit so that you can at least make logical statements like: "a X is not a Y".

I would like to actually see one of your exports from theBrain after you have imported some information in the Owl vocabulary. 

Seth says
source: MR above
I can import OWL & RDF into theBrain & create an export of the brain which could theoretically be referenced in an fbi link & run on it's server much like the embedded mindmaps on theBrain website.
One more comment about this.  I was trying to do it in 2002 with my Sailor Agents.  Of course i was successful in reading in RDF and making links.  Output documents could even be published on the web and would look something like this.  The problem i found, and that discouraged me from persueing it, was that there is a severe lack of useful data published in RDF in 2002. Somehow i think that is still the case.  You end up with lots of people publishing various vocabularies, but when you go to look for useful data in those vocabularies, you can't find it.   For example you'd think that the government would be publishing all kinds of good data in RDF; but let me know if you ever find it.     

Mark de LA says
Just for amusement I used a product called Compare Suite to compare the Baucus bill original with the latest markup. Here are the statistics from the side by side comparason after the pdfs were converted to text.  This is probably useful to highlight the areas to delve into deeper. OTOH, the pdf for the latest mark does highlight changes, additions & deletions in colors. The product does produce an HTML report of the side by side comparison.


Seth says
I was under the impression that the bill would go from about 150 pages to over a thousand after markup.  Was that the case?

Mark de LA says
seth 2009-10-06 05:03:12 12253
I was under the impression that the bill would go from about 150 pages to over a thousand after markup.  Was that the case?
pdf-wise the bill went from 220 to 259 pgs.  It is not the Bill yet.  It is still in the form of conceptual language. Grettawire gives a good picture in an interview with Sen. Kyle. The net of it is that BHO will probably not read the bill itself but have some staffers make a go at it. It is now in multiple versions in the house & senate with the senate in conceptual & not legal language. Someday the Democrat leaders in the House & senate will get together with a few staffers & reach agreements & then the staffers will write the bills detail language for the pres to sign. The funny thing about this process is that this business as usual treatment of a law that may last many years & is not a crisis, natural disaster or war & can affect 17% of the US economy is being rushed through to satisfy BHO's political promises. Why not get it right & transparent to start with. IMHO, the rush is to ram it through while BHO still has a majority of democrats probably because that is likely to change in the next election.

Seth says
Mark 2009-10-06 09:39:02 12253
seth 2009-10-06 05:03:12 12253
I was under the impression that the bill would go from about 150 pages to over a thousand after markup.  Was that the case?
pdf-wise the bill went from 220 to 259 pgs. 
Sounds to me like you compared two different versions of the same thing; but not as you described above "with the latest markup".  All the amendments of the markup, me thinks, would send it over 1000 pages.  I think the committee is scheduled to vote on the 1000+ page bill sometime this week, Baucus willing.

Mark de LA says
seth 2009-10-07 06:53:36 12253
choy 2009-10-06 13:34:54 12253
Well take a look at The Senate Finance Committee website. Still 259 pages in a pdf ammended. Have you got another reference before the so-called vote?

Well yeah you're right this is the new ammended bill written in conceptual language.  Apparently it doesn't get mucked up by the lawyers until after it is passed out of committee.
Just for fun I tried to get some reality to the term conceptual language. You can read it as plain English in the context of this article on the health care debate in the senate. IMHO, all laws should be written in plain English because lawyers should not write in job security for themselves & government.  For the hundreds of dollars they usually get they should be able to write in plain English what they mean.  It would be a boon for transparency.
In the context of this Wikipedia article on Karl Marx it seemed to me to mean the buzzwords of propaganda ....
source: (on Marxism) ...

Essentially, people use the word "Marxist" in one of two ways:

  1. to describe those who rely on Marx's conceptual language (for example: "mode of production", "class", "commodity fetishism") to understand capitalist and other societies; or:
  2. to describe those who regard a workers' revolution as the only means to a communist society.

 
... & just for further fun this article explains why the hurry:
source: ...

"Time is the enemy of reform," he said in prepared testimony. "As some normalcy returns to our financial system and our economy, we cannot let it be cause for complacency. We must act to correct the regulatory problems that have left our financial system so fragile and prone to future trouble."


...or as Rahm said "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste" - it might return to normalcy without government interference!



Seth says
source: MR above
IMHO, all laws should be written in plain English because lawyers should not write in job security for themselves & government.  For the hundreds of dollars they usually get they should be able to write in plain English what they mean.  It would be a boon for transparency.
Well i can certainly agree with that! The legislative process is in need of serious revolution or reform.  It applies to all politics in Washington; but such a message ends up being cheapened by using it as an excuse to take pot shots at the current administration.   It will get lost, as usual, if it becomes just another partisan talking point.  That is exactly where i lost respect for your Third Street and UnhackTheBrain initiatives. 

Mark de LA says
seth 2009-10-08 07:40:50 12253
source: MR above
IMHO, all laws should be written in plain English because lawyers should not write in job security for themselves & government.  For the hundreds of dollars they usually get they should be able to write in plain English what they mean.  It would be a boon for transparency.
Well i can certainly agree with that! The legislative process is in need of serious revolution or reform.  It applies to all politics in Washington; but such a message ends up being cheapened by using it as an excuse to take pot shots at the current administration.   It will get lost, as usual, if it becomes just another partisan talking point.  That is exactly where i lost respect for your Third Street and UnhackTheBrain initiatives. 
You have such a thin skin it's almost like you have some kind of perverted & distorted puppy love for Obama or he's your favorite son who can do no wrong. None of Obama's initiatives have had a good effect on the country.  Stimulus - failed! Job loss increasing! Olympics - failed! TARP - nobody knows where the money went - some went to failing banks. Afghanistan - failing. Budget deficit equal to 2 + years of the Bush admin. Cash for clunkers failed.  Who in their right mind raises taxes in the middle of a recession? Obama, eh? Gitmo - failed! Dollar - failing. GM, Chrysler still failing. Green jobs? Where are they? Iran still refining Uranium.  Health care & Cap & trade being rammed through passing on the burden to recession laden Americans & future generations for Democrat Ego. Social security - broke! Medicare -broke! Post Office - broke! Amtrak - broke! Fannie Mae - broke! Freddy Mac - broke! ACORN - corrupt!  Congress at 25% approval. Direction of country 56/37% say it's going in the wrong direction. Too bad we don't have a UK parliamentary system where a vote of no-confidence can oust the government.  If you can't expand your mind outside of the Obama Administration's talking points you will never grasp the ideas in Third Street & UnhackTheBrain!

Mark de LA says
Sorry, I also left out the FHA & FDIC are broke & need bailouts.

Seth says
M 2009-10-08 12:30:23 12253
This is a case where the purpose of [the: item 12253] became subjugated to the politics of the moment.  I am inclined to snip that which is not related to the HAL project & either put it somewhere else or the bit bucket when I get a .
I'm inclined to suggest the bit bucket.  Again in your zeal to criticize me, you miss my point which was:  if you want to reform the legislative process, don't engage in partisan politics.  What i said had nothing to do with my alleged "puppy love for Obama".  In fact you just exemplified my very point.

Mark de LA says
seth 2009-10-09 07:18:41 12253
M 2009-10-08 12:30:23 12253
This is a case where the purpose of [the: item 12253] became subjugated to the politics of the moment.  I am inclined to snip that which is not related to the HAL project & either put it somewhere else or the bit bucket when I get a .
I'm inclined to suggest the bit bucket.  Again in your zeal to criticize me, you miss my point which was:  if you want to reform the legislative process, don't engage in partisan politics.  What i said had nothing to do with my alleged "puppy love for Obama".  In fact you just exemplified my very point.
The legislative process is partisan!  How do you think it got messed up so bad.  Those in power (office) craft the process to remain in power (office). Pretending to be non-partisan is like political correctness - it's just another mask to put on to fool the public & spin more BS.


Mark de LA says
The real trick here is to get the partisan legislatures (House & Senate) who constitutionally can write their own rules of procedure to re-write the rules so that the public can see transparently what they are doing & who is violating the rules.  I'm afraid that flushgov.com is the only answer.


Seth says
M 2009-10-09 08:31:34 12253
seth 2009-10-09 07:18:41 12253
M 2009-10-08 12:30:23 12253
This is a case where the purpose of [the: item 12253] became subjugated to the politics of the moment.  I am inclined to snip that which is not related to the HAL project & either put it somewhere else or the bit bucket when I get a .
I'm inclined to suggest the bit bucket.  Again in your zeal to criticize me, you miss my point which was:  if you want to reform the legislative process, don't engage in partisan politics.  What i said had nothing to do with my alleged "puppy love for Obama".  In fact you just exemplified my very point.
The legislative process is partisan!  How do you think it got messed up so bad.  Those in power (office) craft the process to remain in power (office). Pretending to be non-partisan is like political correctness - it's just another mask to put on to fool the public & spin more BS.

Yep, obviously the legislators are partisans.  That's exactly why you need to step out of that dimension to change it.  The force to change needs to come from grass roots people and the executive and judicial branches.  But it cannot be perceived as Democrats reforming Republicans, or visa versa.  Neither party can expect to score points on the process.  Perhaps the reform bill could be written by a bipartisan commission standing outside of normal legislative committees, where most of the problems are, and then voted on by the entire houses.  The strategy would be to make any congressmen voting against the bill stand out like a sour thumb.

Mark de LA says
The best way to address a challenge or solve a problem is to acknowledge what's on the table (or the frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork a la Naked Lunch) - all points of view and agendas. Out of partisan substrate must come the possibility to become something larger than winning which is, IMHO, the health & prosperity of the country. Knowing that your government is driven by that guiding principle transparently s/b such a possibility worthy of implementation. Shame those who can't arise to the occasion by voting them out of office at the earliest convenience.

Mark de LA says
seth 2009-10-09 10:14:10 12253
M 2009-10-09 10:06:37 12253
U.S. Constitution, Article I Section 5: ...

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.


... The only non-partisan thing is to remove all of them that you can in an election.  Such a signal will get the message through - Ignore your constituents at your own peril! Constituents also are partisan for the most part having been brainwashed by spin & the M$M. It won't be easy. One has to bring up the disgust with the SOS to a tipping-point.  Congress is in the low 20's of approval. The president will have to follow & will certainly hear the message if sent. Presidents can't get anything done without the purse strings of Congress.

So when you remove them all and get new ones, what is to prevent the new ones from doing the same things?
They will know that the electorate has awakened & can remove them the same way as their predecessors. If they don't get that message then remove them the same way. They can be expelled in the mean time.


Mark de LA says
Time may be the enemy of reform, it is also the enemy of a con job!


See Also

  1. Thought Is it worth doing? with 2 viewings related by tag "hal".
  2. Thought The New Semantic Web ? with 2 viewings related by tag "rdfa".