Jurists 7 x Sociedade 1 in the legislative game – 09/17/2023 – Ronaldo Lemos

Jurists 7 x Sociedade 1 in the legislative game – 09/17/2023 – Ronaldo Lemos

Brazil is in the process of creating important laws in the National Congress. Some dealing with themes of the future, such as artificial intelligence or the construction of a new Civil Code suited to current times. However, the process of drafting these laws could not be more antiquated.

These themes are universally important. Artificial intelligence has an impact on the future of each person’s work and on the country’s international competitiveness. The Civil Code regulates the lives of all of us, from traffic accidents to family relationships and contracts.

We should expect that, with regard to such wide-ranging issues, Congress will listen to the opinions of many people when writing new legislation, as all sectors will be affected. It’s not the case. Congress chose to listen to the opinion of just one segment. The drafting of both laws was the responsibility of a commission of jurists (the name of a group composed only of lawyers).

The Brazilian Congress could be inspired by the recent speech by Senator Chuck Schumer, majority leader in the US Senate: “Congress needs to invent a new process to develop laws. Topics such as artificial intelligence move quickly. Traditionally, public hearings have an important role in listening to society. But they are not enough. We need help from creators, innovators and people who work in the area”.

Senator Schumer’s call to “invent a new process to develop laws” could be readily heeded in Brazil. If there is something that the country knows how to do, and well, it is precisely to create technologies for participation and legislative deliberation among all sectors of society. We are not only leaders, but a major exporter of this type of technology.

It was in Brazil that, for example, the participatory budget emerged, a process to broadly decide the application of public money. The Brazilian model is used today in dozens of countries: Germany, Canada, Denmark, the United States, the Netherlands, Switzerland and more. Cities as diverse as Mumbai or New York use the Brazilian method to consult their citizens about how public money will be spent, one of the most difficult and controversial topics.

Brazil in the past has already used participation technologies to draft laws such as the Marco Civil da Internet and the General Data Protection Law. Congress itself invested for years in its digital consultation platform, E-Democracia, which is now adrift. It’s as if Brazil had gone back in time. It started in the 2000s as a leader in participation technologies. Today, 20 years later, he is content with groups of lawyers as a model of participation. It’s like the book Ubik by visionary Philip K. Dick, where time moves forward and the characters move backward.

Can you do it differently? From the. For example, on the issue of artificial intelligence, it is essential to appoint permanent committees made up of other segments: the Brazilian AI scientific community (institutions such as UFPB and UFAM have centers of excellence in the area). Founders of Brazilian AI startups, civil society organizations. And even listen to randomly drawn citizens (in the method called “sortition”, increasingly interesting).

Any other composition is more representative than listening to just the lawyers. Even being part of the class, I take this opportunity to remember that no segment should act alone. The quality of the final result is grateful.


It’s over Brazil as a leader in public participation technologies in the formulation of laws

Already Committees of lawyers representing the whole of society in the formulation of laws

It’s coming Countries like the USA expanding legislative public participation processes

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