Tech law predictions for 2073
The wonderful Society for Computers and Law is 50 this year, and it is producing a book of predictions of what tech law will look like in 50 years' time.
Here is my small contribution:
In 50 years time, when the Society for Computers and Law celebrates its centenary, I will be 90. Whether I will still be around, or still thinking about Internet and telecoms law, who knows. Will there even be "Internet law" in 2073, or will that term seem as anachronistic as "law of the telegraph" would seem today?
I know the object of this exercise is to predict what tech law might look like in 50 years time, but I'm not even going to pretend to do that. Humans are, typically, terrible when it comes to predicting the future, perhaps especially when it comes to technology, which moves and changes focus so quickly. I'm not confident I could predict even 5 years into the future, let alone 50.
So instead of predicting the state of tech law, I'm going to make a wish. And, for those of you who know me, it might seem like an odd wish, given that my career to date has been very much focussed on the technology. I've spent much of my time with the SCL helping lawyers better understand the technology on which they advise - "putting the 'tech' into 'tech law'", so to speak.
This is still important, but it is a piece that I wrote almost 10 years ago, in 2015, which underpins my wish today. I wrote:
"Luddism is a misunderstood concept, with the phrase 'Luddite' generally being used to refer to someone who chooses not to adopt new technologies. But this usage is to misstate, or to misunderstand, what Luddism was about and, in suggesting that we 'be more Luddite', I am not suggesting that we should become anti-technology. Luddites were not concerned about technology as such. Rather, they were concerned about machines 'hurtful to Commonality'. Luddites were looking for recognition that innovation should be about more than simply profit maximisation, and that greater recognition should be given to the impact which technology had on the lives of the average person."
I went on to say:
"The Luddites were not asking for the end of technology. But they were asking for technology to be developed with humans in mind, to innovate in a way which was beneficial to commonality, not hurtful. Machines which made everyone's lives better, not just the lives of a few. Machines which made jobs easier, not fewer."
That is my wish, for tech law in 2073: not a wish that we become anti-technology, but a wish that we work to ensure that our technology is not anti-human. That we keep humans - all humans, not just rich, or healthy, or technically adept, humans - at the heart of technology. That we use our skills to help build technology helpful to commonality, not hurtful to it.