Do not knowingly harm others

Brookville, Pennsylvania
May 2, 2016 12:22pm CST
I write science fiction, and one of the things I’m always thinking about is how technology will change our lives. But not always for the best. I live on a farm and one thing I would love to get is a drone. That way, if the fence stopped working, instead of going around it all looking for the problem I could just send the drone out and see a branch fell on the fence at this one point and I can just go there to fix the problem. But the same drone I could use to help run the farm, could be used by a terrorist to fly a small bomb into a jet’s engine during takeoff or landing. Technology mostly used for good, can still be used for evil. Just as most people use computers to play games, write books, or chat with people around the globe, others use them to steal money. While most people will use 3D printers to make dog toys or a new toilet seat, someone with a history of violence who can’t legally purchase a gun could just print a gun and go shoot their ex. And we’re not too many years away from home genetic kits where people could engineer bacteria to produce the plastics they use in their 3D printers, or design a plague. We’ve gotten to the point where technology usually advances faster than legislation. Many of the copyright laws were written or updated before things like YouTube existed. So given all the copyright issues there have been on YouTube, just imagine what legal issues we’ll have with 3D printers and gene modifying kits. What will probably happen is that legislatures – after struggling to keep up for decades – will likely go overboard with draconian measures. There will be this massive 800 page bill that will list all the things you are not allowed to 3D print. Few people will read it because it will be 800 pages of legalese, and it will miss hundreds of other just as dangerous things that people will continue to 3D print. And as for all the forbidden items, people will find loopholes. And with advancing medical technology, H. sapiens will begin to speciate. This means they will alter themselves to be merpeople to live in the seas, or adapted to living on Mars without need of a spacesuit, and countless areas in-between. And if you think international laws are confusing now, just imagine the legal issues between humans who live entirely in a virtual world and the cyborg humans who maintain the computer servers in the real world. Eventually, the people or legislatures will get smart enough to simplify the legal code. I think the most basic simplification will be: Do not knowingly harm others. This clearly applies to things like murder, rape, and dumping toxic waste. But I was an adolescent male in the 80’s. Some of the things done to me would easily be classed as bullying today. I’m not saying I was perfect, many of the things I did would also be called bullying. But did that harm me? How “harmful” does the harm have to be before legal action is necessary? I suppose we can just leave that to the legal AIs to debate endlessly.
1 response
@sulynsi (2806)
• Canada
2 May
You have to go farther than not "knowingly harming others" That is pretty passive. And not really taking responsibility for our actions, 'well, I didn't know it would hurt anyone" Perhaps thinking "Do to others what you would have them do to you" a well known maxim. Makes it pretty hard to justify anything close to bullying Makes it hard to justify theft, murder, unkindness, rudeness, adultery etc etc. How would I feel if this happened to me? Would I like it if someone invaded my privacy by indiscriminate use of a drone (ie peeking in windows) or took my music, that I'd worked hard to produce and used it without compensating me Think first, act with consideration of others. Of course, we all will unwittingly do things that upset others, even after reflection. However, the more we make the attempt to mitigate damage, the less negative impact we will have.