Recently a man I Tehran was jailed as a consequence of visiting a sorcerer who demanded $500 to grant him invisibility spells. Thinking he couldn’t be seen he entered a bank and confidently grabbed money from the customers. Their response was such that he was clearly visible! Obviously the sorcerer or wizard was an imposter, as they all are; but we know that in science fiction both Romulans and Klingons can disappear, and Harry Potter has an invisibility cloak which allows him to vanish. The only time I am invisible to others is when I jump the queue, which is happening with monotonous regularity!
Children can put their head in a box and think they cannot be see, and playing peep-o is a fun time of apparent invisibility, but that kind of joy has long gone and reality sets in. There are times in normal life when we wish we could disappear and resurface in another clime, or wish the earth would open and swallow us from embarrassment. The answer is teleportation which swiftly whisks us away to another country without an extradition policy! However, there are a group pf lawyers called ‘Gikii’ who now meet annually to discuss laws relating to future technology, and its possible legal implications. If we were transported and something went wrong who is liable?
In 19th Century England a law was passed that demanded that a motorcar driver must employ somebody to amble ahead of their vehicle, waving a warning flag. If that were still applicable it would take me 5 hours minimum to get to HICC from my bungalow, and of course the same back again. Ten hours travel for a 38 minute message [average length of my sermons] and a new pair of shoes each month for the flag man. In the US it was legislated that the property rights for an individual encompassed the sky directly above their homes, which meant that as aircraft were invented and developed, planes were routinely trespassing. They had to rush into operation new laws which said the airspace above their property was a ‘public highway.’
Thus there is often a knee-jerk reaction when a new gizmo challenges past common sense, for most legal professionals are occupied with the past not the future. However, as we face a robot age, it is possible to programme all robots to be encoded with case law, so they are never caught out but can argue their case fluently. But, what if they commit manslaughter or possibly a rogue one murders someone? It is possible. To be pre-emptive is not really necessary, but being prepared for disruptive technologies is wise.
For instance what would happen if an autonomous car hit and killed a pedestrian, who would be to blame? Did the owner of the car update the software or was he lax? Did the pedestrian have any knowledge that meant they were too casual in consideration of the car’s function and abilities? e.g., it would suddenly lurch into action, like a horse could kick if you stood behind it. Also, what if a robotic hedge cutter went rogue and sliced up a neighbour, where does liability lie? And, robots can talk, parrots mimic but are not original. Therefore a robot can say something about somebody in public and be sued for defamation of character. “Your credit card, sir, has maximised by you buying too many pornographic videos.”
This leads me to ask whether God has had to change His laws because of modern lifestyle and anticipated future trends. Satisfyingly the answer is no, He hasn’t, and no He won’t. The only question He really asks is “Do you accept my son Jesus Christ for your salvation?” Nothing else really matters; through the centuries nothing will change that eternal question and it will be answered in one way only: “Yes, I did” or “No, I didn’t.” Forget modern technology, they cannot affect or change the penalty of forgiveness for sin.
However, God did change one law, and it was immense. He allowed divorce; it was not so from the beginning, but due to the hardness of man’s heart. He must have been grieved in His spirit at the magnitude of man’s rebellion and waywardness. The modern generation have now changed that divine law, and wreaked havoc on marriage interpretation so that 30,000 legal documents have to be altered – mindless confusion indeed, and even then, it will not define marriage accurately. Meddling with God’s laws brings confusion and disaster; we sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.