As every part of our lives became computerized, so did the law. Slowly, the rules and standards of a country were copied on the electronic form so as to not juggle with the heavy dusty books, whose papers are already worn out.
The move to electronic forms of information has been believed to be a momentous change in the law which is more significant than modes of writing from pencil to pen.
Technology turned the foundations of law upside down. Specific rules and broad standards, the two approaches through which law was applied for thousands of years have become obsolete. The day is not far when computers will also take up the work of judges, becoming the highest power of any democracy.
Even hospital treatment changed over the time. Micro-directives had replaced the broad standard controlling medical care: that a doctor aspire to act in a patient’s best interest. Though many rely on the machines for lack of trust on humans, it is notable that even machines can make mistakes but the blame does not fall directly on a specific person in this case. If a hand is lost while operating, the machine will be blamed and perhaps it’s inventor.
Similarly, if computers take on judges, it will be interesting how machine made mistakes can release criminal or pronounce a wrong judgment, for which the protests too cannot take place, after all machine can’t be blamed.
However, envisaged machines able to assemble data and produce predictive outcomes instantly, turning rules and standards upside down and replacing them with micro-directives were more responsive to circumstances, and rational.
What if a computer could tell it was okay to install a swimming pool in a remote location and if it poses danger to children, a fence should be erected?
People have already started seeking answers about complex areas of tax, such as how to determine if a person is an employee or independent contractor, or whether an expenditure should be treated as current or depreciated—murky stuff that even tax authorities preferred coming from machines.
Students aspiring to work in investment management now routinely use machines to assess whether a shareholder in a firm that was sold through a leveraged buy-out would be retrospectively liable for a “fraudulent transfer” if the company subsequently collapsed, a risk that defied being addressed because it was so hard to measure.
Criminal law once revolved around externally observed facts. Then DNA evidence entered the picture. Now, cases often hinged on data about pulse rates, intoxication and location, drawn from the wristbands that replaced watches. It was much fairer—but creepy, because the facts came from perpetual monitoring.