As we develop new and interesting technologies, ostensibly to make our lives better, it puts pressure on our legal system to make sure that we
The government cares a lot about its money, especially when it can be converted into Bitcoin, the digital anonymous currency, and taken off the radar to be sent anywhere without anyone’s identity attached to it.
The Feds are still figuring out how to address Bitcoin. In the meantime, many marketplaces legitimate and illegitimate alike will gladly take the currency as payment for everything from socks to drugs.
2. Commercial drones
Commercial drone use was catapulted to the public’s attention with Amazon’s surprising announcement that it’s been experimenting with package delivery by unmanned aerial vehicle.
But here’s the thing — there’s no legal framework in the United States for businesses to make use of drones with the government’s blessing. The FAA is on record as saying that it will be drawing up rules for such use cases, and when that happens, it’ll shake up a number of industries. Obviously the aforementioned package deliveries can be handled much more swiftly and cheaply when there’s not a human responsible for getting it to your door, but farmers can use them to dust crops, and companies in Australia are even using them to put out bush fires.
Commercial drone use faces two major hurdles before it becomes part of our lives — winning the public’s favour as a safe and easy way to get business done, and figuring out where it fits within FAA regulations.
3. 3D printing
Many were raising a stink late last year (I was one of them) about Defence Distributed, a nonprofit organisation committed to designing a functioning gun that one could hypothetically make at home with a 3D printer. It presents something of a problem to lawmakers — how do you make sure guns are being used safely when they can be manufactured in someone’s garage without serial numbers or accountability? The city of Philadelphia has already issued a ban on 3D printed weapons, so look for this ban to become a trend.
But that’s not the only legal implication of 3D printing. Given the ability to manifest pretty much any object you can conceive of, 3D printers also have copyright zealots up in arms about potential infringement. The famous example here is found in Warhammer 40K, a tabletop wargame played with small figures that are most certainly protected under intellectual property laws. But with a 3D scanner and printer, it becomes a cinch to clone your figures at a fraction of the price you’d pay to buy them at a store. Is this legal or illegal?
These are just three examples of how technology is outpacing the law, and given the current rate at which people are churning out newer and better gadgets to expand our capabilities, lawmakers will continue to have to play catchup.