Just as the future will provide technologies that are unknown today, there will be lawsuits that are unknown today. Your personal robobutler goes bonkers and steals your jetpack and crashes into the neighbors flying car, that sort of thing. Of course, that one is pretty obvious. But one occurred to me today that I wonder how far the legal system is away from dealing with…
Psychopaths and other assorted nuts have been in the news in recent years when they go off and shoot up a church or blow up a crowd. Of course lawsuits will come, as victims sue the criminals, but also of course there won’t be much to collect.
I doubt that it will be too long before genetic and/or hormonal tests are developed that tell you if someone is psychotic (and boy won’t that be fun when politicians are challenged to present test results). And not long after a test like that is developed, it will be refined to test embyros, either in test tubes or in utero. And here’s where things could get interesting.
Let’s say a couple decades from now Lil’ Jimmy goes bugnuts with a 3D printed phaser and evaporates half his classmates. As the lawyers cackle with glee as they rub their hands and dig through every financial record to see who can be sued for how much, they find that Lil’ Jimmy’s parents conceived artificially. And in the course of testing the embryos prior to implantation, it was found that one of them had the markers for psychopathology, and yet they went ahead with gestation.
So… can the parents be sued for knowingly bringing a violent nut into the world? *Today* such a lawsuit wouldn’t fly as babies are by and large the products of random genetic mixing between the parents and nobody knows whether any particular embryo poses any particular risk to society. But it probably won’t be long before those change.
So when “designer babies” are a thing, or even just complete genetic readouts of embryos are a thing, will the creation of babies who have known genetic traits for dangerous behavior lead to liability on the parents part?