Predictions 2013, and beyond: Part 7, Mainly Just for Fun

December 11, 2012

{i}From {b}Matthew Lavy{/b}, Barrister at 4 Pump Court{/i}


There will be catastrophic data leakage from a cloud service owing to a technical malfunction, leading to a trend (albeit not a stampede) within regulated sectors to bring server farms back in-house. Technically assisted review will start to become the accepted norm (replacing keyword searches) as the basis for controlling the scale and cost of e-disclosure exercises. The iPhone 6 will sell like hot cakes.


My new computer has just arrived. It looks very much like a PC from 1993, but it is sturdier and far more powerful. Following the latest trend, I have bought myself a ‘standalone’ computer: it has plentiful storage space (on a conventional solid-state disk) and contains the Open Source ‘Universe’ – all the software I will ever need, plus a snapshot of ‘Vetted Internet 2022’. These standalone computers are fantastic, and it is astonishing that no one thought of it before: no need ever to connect to the live Internet and subject oneself to viruses, malware and the rest; no reliance on server farms in Alaska for processing and storing data; everything on the box itself – secure, robust and independent. To rid myself entirely of dangerous, inefficient ‘connected’ technology of the last decade, I have also discarded my iPhone 48, replacing it with a small elegant voice-call-only phone. My daily digital mail cartridge has just arrived: plug it in and triage over breakfast. The outgoing collection is not until 7pm, so no need to read everything now. Much better than the old system, with its constant interruptions from e-mail, instant messaging, twitter and the like; it’s a wonder we ever managed coherent thought in those days!


My computer can hear my thoughts. The language is Mandarin.

{i}From {b}Clive Freedman{/b}, Barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings and an SCL Trustee{/i}

The Editor commented in his predictions on the probable need to build more prisons in which to provide free board and lodging for those who make offensive remarks online. This set me wondering whether a more appropriate form of sanction for offensive online comments could be devised. Such a sanction should involve (a) minimal expense to the taxpayer, (b) plenty of publicity as a deterrent to others, (c) a sufficient amount of mental suffering as a punishment to the offender (corresponding to the mental suffering caused to the victim), and (d) proven efficacy from use in former times.

Will 2013 be the year in which our legislature votes to bring back the stocks?

{i}From {b}Lilian Edwards{/b}, Professor of E-Governance, University of Strathclyde{/i}

{i}2053 and beyond{/i}

Anonymous aerial drone surveillance of celebrities by paparazzi will be so ubiquitous that Lord Leveson (as he then is), now 123 but with his head frozen in cryogenic suspension for public use, is asked to hold a new judicial inquiry about the press and privacy intrusion.

Boris Johnson (145, also in cryogenic suspension) proposes aerial congestion charging for drones in London. The public, who took energetically to Boris Bendy Jetpacks in 2033, approve.

In Japan, portal invisibility shields are developed to hide celebrities from the prying eyes of the drones. These are however banned when Japanese employers complain that this means they will not know if salarymen are at their desks for the required 85% of their life.

In the UK the shields are so expensive only King William, Queen Kate and the Crown Princess Barbera d’Asti can afford them. In Germany, where demand is enormous among the privacy conscious population, importing the shields is banned as an anti-competitive practice. In France, a uniquely French version is developed, which is actually just an umbrella printed with Monet gardens but no one dares say anything.

Hacking self-driving cars so they can be driven manually for kicks (bot jacking) becomes a common crime among the young. Debate rages for decades as to whether it should be charged as attempted manslaughter or just as hacking under s 1 of the Computer Misuse Act.

The other major new crime is drone bombing which involves using drones to dump noxious fluids on the heads of enemies. The Coalition government in moral panic mode passes the Dangerous Drones Act. Professor Lilian Edwards of Bruntsfield Primary School University (177) moans, from her virtual brain in the cloud, that the law of assault would have covered it perfectly adequately.

Counterfeit organ selling on eBay becomes a major social issue. Sauvignon Blanc, 23, a top body sculptor, becomes a media fixture when she discovers the luxury Gucci kidney she bought on eBay was not in fact grown in the body of a transgenic giant panda living off tofu in a tranquil rainforest environment but was actually printed out in a 3d printing organ factory in Bangalore. ‘I feel violated’, she says ‘how do I know this piece of scam wetware isn’t collecting all my personal biological data and selling it to the paparazzi?’ Inevitably Lord Leveson is eventually asked to conduct an inquiry, which lasts 136 years.

Robots, while ubiquitous, are still only about as intelligent as cats (though far more useful). Despite this, IT law students continue to demand that they be given legal personality.