Grab a box of wine and your favorite flying robot, dear friends, because the party’s almost over.
Beginning on January 15th, 2018, it is illegal in New Jersey to operate a drone while intoxicated. This makes New Jersey the first U.S. state—and as far as I can tell from ten seconds of googling, the first governmental entity in the world—to pass any such legislation.
It had to happen. Drones are plentiful, increasingly affordable, and capable of causing serious injury. I haven’t had one drop on my head yet, but I’m always watching the skies. Paranoid? Yes. But with 3.7 million drones estimated to be sold in the U.S. just in 2018, honestly, how could I not be?
This opens the door to my new favorite topic—futuring while intoxicated.
I expect much of our collective future and its frightening technologies to be operated while under chemical influence. In addition to drones, we’ll soon be drowning in consumer robotics of all stripes—including for home and personal defense (my first robot bodyguard’s name: the Walker Walker). Here’s my real prediction—and I’m really going out on a limb here: human beings will keep getting lit, on the regular, forever.
As machines become bigger and stronger, laws will have to get more complex. Future New Jersey statute: No operation of unmanned spider drones weighing in excess of 2,000 kilograms in Human Safe Zones 1, 3, 4, and 9 after the 6:00 pm curfew, except on designated government holidays. Fines of $5,000 or higher and jail time of up to six months applicable for violators. (Personal exemptions granted by the governor’s office only)
Operating monster robots won’t be the only fun activity you can do while high. In what I felt sure had to be a pre-April Fool’s Day science fiction-themed prank, Scientific American reported that you can now get mail-order CRISPR kits for the home. That’s right—the power to make precise edits to DNA, including human DNA, delivered right to your doorstep.
I’m not kidding.
Remember that hybrid rat-wasp you’ve been dying to create but have thus far been too responsible to bring to life? It’s gonna look a lot more attractive after five pints at the pub.
We haven’t even talked about modifications to our own bodies, one of my favorite topics. If you’ve replaced your own arms with mechanical ones that can punch through walls, will you be subject to 24-hour-a-day randomized breathalyzers? Forced to adopt a brain implant that shuts you down if you eat a bunch of mushrooms?
Creating new laws to match consumer science presumes a stable, functioning government that can respond to new tech developments as they appear. That’s a pretty huge presumption. Sort of a ridiculous presumption, probably, but I’m writing this during my daily five-minute bout of optimism, so there you go.
We can’t really know what’s coming down the pipe (wink!). Maybe Elon Musk can, but I don’t usually get to consult with him before writing these posts.
For now, at least, we have New Jersey. May it continue to lead the way.