6 Insane Laws We'll Need in the Future

From the war on drugs to gay marriage to file sharing, it seems like the law is in a continual, often losing, battle to keep up with the modern world.

But it's only going to get worse from here. Advances in genetic engineering and AI are going to change what it means to be human, and that means lots and lots of work for the future's lawyers.

#6. Mandatory Life Span Limits

See this clam?

If nobody eats it, it can live to be 400 years old. So if it can do it, what's stopping us from living that long? Or longer?

Nothing, according to researchers like Dr. Aubrey de Grey. He wrote a paper in 2005 mapping out a research path for treatments that would keep us alive for multiple normal lifespans.

Your medicine cabinet will need to be walk-in though.

And We'll Need New Laws Because...

Feel free to take this out of context if we ever run for office later, but we sort of need people to die. Our entire society and economy depends on it, and at some point we'd have no choice but to impose a lifespan cap.

First, it will cost money to keep these people going (it already costs far, far more to care for the elderly than it does for young people). Only the population of elderly will have exploded, because they won't be dying off.

Also, the vast majority of you have the job you have now because at some point in the past the last guy who had it quit, or retired, or died. Picture a future where every high-paying position in your department or company is held by somebody who's been there for 200 years.

It's also worth keeping in mind that big, positive social changes tend to take generational changes--some attitudes die so hard that they don't go away until the people holding them are in the ground. For instance, Thomas Jefferson didn't think slavery would go away until there was some future generation that wouldn't tolerate it, and he was right. And then the civil rights movement didn't happen until the last of the slaveholders--and many of their children--had died off.

If you'd like more insight on the subject, ask an Oakland Raiders fan how they feel about the idea of Al Davis running the team for another 300 years.

#5. Genetic Discrimination Laws

June 26, 2000: A joint announcement by Prime Minister Blair and President Clinton revealed that the human genome had been mapped. The world blinked, shrugged and continued waiting in line for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After all, what does it mean to them?

September 2, 2009: A woman gives birth to the first genetically screened baby. Once more, the world yawns and returns to discussing Disney buying Marvel. That's right; someone created a real version of Judge Dredd, and we're all, "Meh."

Not even Stallone wants to relive this.

Designer baby techniques are here (hell, they even describe them on a popular science website aimed at kids). They will become widespread in the next 20 years. And from birth, society will know whether your child is predisposed to health problems (with insurance rates adjusted accordingly) or even, dare we say, certain behaviors.

Discrimination based on outdated prejudices will be replaced by discrimination based on scientific fact. Holy crap! It's Gattaca!

And We'll Need New Laws Because...

When we said they would pass "Genetic Discrimination Laws," we bet you thought we meant anti-discrimination laws. It doesn't look that way. In China, sterilization for people with genetic disorders was made legal back in the 90s.

Pre-implant screening of genetic defects is now becoming standard for in vitro fertilization treatments, and people have been using sperm sorting companies to select the sex of their child since 2001. Additional "designer baby" options were planned to be rolled out by fertility institutes last February only to be withdrawn due to widespread "HEY THAT'S TOTALLY THE PLOT OF GATTACA!" criticism.

And we may feel the need to protect the rights of the Ethan Hawkes of the future... for a while. But once the designer baby practice becomes common, there is the real threat of creating a permanent underclass of people more prone to disease and genetic disorders, unless they start legally requiring a certain amount of genetic tinkering to offset the disparity.

And while we're on the subject...

#4. Legally Redefining "Parents"

Mother's Day and Father's Day are already confusing affairs now, what with surrogate moms and transgendered dads.

Remember this guy?

Hell, we can even make babies with three parents (although legally only with animals thus far).

The standard nuclear family in 2050 (artist's Conception).

Yep, science is well on the way to reinventing the concept of family altogether. For instance we already know how to make sperm from stem cells. No need for a father at all.

Before you feminists get all cocky, women are no longer really necessary either, as artificial ova and artificial wombs are now a reality.


But wait--they'll still need DNA, right?

Wrong. We have been working on making DNA in the lab since the 70s. The only reason we're not on the cusp of a factory that can turn out parentless kids is that nobody has figured out how to make money off such an operation.

Don't even think about it, Disney.

And We'll Need New Laws Because...

Still, it seems like it's just a matter of time until someone does it. So who would the kid belong to? Do they become a ward of the state?

Some of you may remember that immediately after the death of Michael Jackson there was some speculation about who exactly had guardianship of the kids, based on the fact that (rumor had it) they were carried by a mother Michael had never slept with, and was fertilized with sperm from some other dude. Meaning Michael had no more of a biological relationship to "his" children than you do. If one of the other two involved parties had asked for parental rights, on what grounds would he have objected?

On the grounds that puny Earth-laws do not apply to Captain Eo.

Likewise, if a wealthy man or a corporation manufactures a child and claims their rights as its parent, who's to say they can't? Don't be surprised if, based on the legal confusion created by a test tube orphan, we eventually get Organic Replacement Laws--if you want to make a kid, a penis and a vagina have to be involved. No sex, no kid.

Hey, speaking of sex, we'll also see courts of the future...

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