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February 20, 2006


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M Kamdar

Perhaps this is a little off-topic, and I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but neuromarketing and literature like this is pretty interesting:

This is obviously not entirely new, but with more and more research being done here, what does this mean for say, consumer protection?


Perhaps an update on the status on the implementation of Tom W. Bell's "Fared Use"?

Ed Felten

Here's one: Dirt-cheap audio and video recording devices that can record continuously and stream everything they hear and see back to a server for permanent storage, indexing, and analysis.


This will affect the price of milk exactly how?


I may be out of league, but here are two quick ideas:

How the internet, and in particular developments like Google Print might effect copyright law--may be past the threshold (old news) that you're thinking about. I got the idea from here: http://ipcentral.info/documentation/ps1.19lessiggoogle.pdf

Another one that could play out in criminal and national security law (which might be a nice change) is discussed here relating to Skype: http://www.technologyreview.com/TR/wtr_16380,323,p1.html. So, Google refused to give up information about what its users were searching for, but what if they designed their technology up front so that they couldn't?

Karl-Friedrich Lenz

Hydrogen economy comes to mind. Even the American government might wake up to the fact that there is something called "Global Warming" going on and start some radical changes in the timeframe mentioned. One might actually hope so.

Google Print is an existing massive copyright violation, not something that will come up in a couple of years.

With the Internet, it might be interesting to imagine a world where everybody goes through services like SecureTunnel and logs on over anonymous Wifi, to counter the enemies of freedom hell-bent on surveillance in America and Europe. That would have quite some effects on the efficiency of all sort of laws concerning the Internet, like gambling, copyright, libel, online freedom of speech and just about everything else. Only the part about widely available Wifi access would be new, however.


Once we have a better understanding of gene sequencing and meaning, insurance companies will surely use that data to screen potential insurees. If you're likely to get heart disease, they'll charge you more for that kind of insurance. Those who most need health insurance will be unable to get it.

Have you seen the movie Gattaca?

Nationalized single-payer health insurance will be inevitable. I can't imagine that that will be the only consequence.


By way of reference: http://web.jhu.edu/president/articles/2002/wsjdec20.html

Steve Dispensa

A couple of things come to mind:

- If energy is important now, it'll be way more important ten years from now. Google had a recent paper about energy consumption in its data centers. Red Herring has a population article on their blog today. Scott Adams (Dilbert Blog) wrote about energy today. Tree huggers like me will only get louder as we try to preserve a reasonable place to live for our kids. And on the small side: advances in fuel cells, better batteries, etc., all have enormous potential to revolutionize our increasingly electrified lives.

- Biotech will wind up causing some important public policy changes. Anti-aging drugs, if they work, could conceivably shift American demographics another year or two older (or more?), which will have a tremendous effect on Medicare and Social Security. There was a recent podcast from you guys about obesity as the new cigarettes; imagine how much more impactful those considerations become in an older population.

- People in general will have to get comfortable with what is fundamentally a decreasing level of anonymity, both online and off. This isn't an NSA rant; it's just a fact of life: the balance between personal (and public) security and personal anonymity is shifting as a result of things like the Internet, public wi-fi, and even cell phones. Should Google keep track of every search you make? etc.

- In a country where more than 50% of the music-buying public is routinely breaking the law (in one way or another), society is going to have to re-think the public-private rights balance of intellectual property in light of diminishing content delivery costs.

There are a few that I find interesting on a Tuesday afternoon. :-)


Advanced in reproductive technology will have all sorts of consequences. Everything from the higher incidence of multiple births in the population, to higher incidences of genetic diseases that used to not survive, to family law issues when there are several people involved in the conception of a child, to lawsuits against docs who "can't get you pregnant" when the expectation is that anyone, with enough intervention, can get pregnant... What will it mean for society as we stretch the reasonable age for women to bear (or even become parents to)children - will we truly have fertile octogenarians? Will society expect women to bear children older, thus affecting the expectations for their careers? How will this affect the adoption "market"?


I would begin by looking at the most volatile or responsive segments of business and sectors of society once tech innovations make inroads.
Domestically, all the computer wires are going to disappear as wireless technology replaces them, so your home workstations will be modular, liberated to be placed more artfully and usefully.
Broadband and blogs are changing learning and communications; and the large email entities are changing interpersonal relationships for people so inclined. The changes are massive already. Learning and research opportunities are at ones workstation waiting, if you have the time to do allnighters to pursue what is beyond those bounds. You will recognize the proportions of this new liberty by the time your study is complete in Ten Years--I would put this in the predictions section, teleologically.
Last year I made a resolution that for two years I would stay off the internet. I can see that was difficult to implement; but if I do so, I will post to your site two years hence with my observations as one who has been offline for nearly one quarter of your study's duration.

Kimball Corson

Here is a topic idea for Tomorrow's Law that you might not expect or like to hear:

Is law in American becoming too complex, pervasive, uncertain and layered across to many area governments to be adequately understood by highly mobile Americans, the behavior of whom it is intended to control? Is common sense therefore too often no longer a reasonable first order approximation to appropriate behavior in too many quarters? I think both questions may be fairly answered affirmatively.

While this state of affairs may find lawyers gleeful (except when they too become ensnared out of their areas), the rest of the populace is left hesitant, uncertain and reluctant to cough up a retainer to a serviceable lawyer, if they can find one, to answer a simple question or two. Too many lawyers hopefully view each new client as bringing World War III to their table to be so useful.

New technology will certainly expand these problems and leave typical Americans further befuddled. Efforts to simplify the law too often end up with results like those of Bush’s panel on tax reform. Sunset laws are a step in the right direction. Perhaps all laws ought to be sun setted, as least for retooling and simplification, but beyond that, what are we to do with this growing problem? Milton Friedman once argued that America was a mighty economic force, not because we were cleverer or smarter that others, but because stability in our infrastructure and financial and legal environment made long term investments feasible.

I worry that we are loosing that stability and that our good common sense is being undermined.

Kimball Corson

e.g., Is AT&T going to be allowed to reacquire its divested Bell South since the antitrust laws have done a flip-flop?

Kimball Corson

Depressing thoughts, huh? But true?

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