This fall's Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica, will plunge civil rights attorney Joseph Adama into unfamiliar legal and ethical depths when he encounters the first member of the Cylonic species. Fortunately, lawyers on our planet are already considering the legal consequences of the future, toaster-laden or otherwise. After the jump, five legal areas sure to burn up the billable hours of future law firms.Artificial Intelligence and Transhuman Law: When Zoe-R comes online, the legal profession is gong to have to ask a lot of hard questions. Is she the same person as Zoe Graystone? Is she a person at all? Can Daniel Graystone hold intellectual property rights in a sentient being? Is he her owner or her parent? And, if she goes on to commit genocide against humanity, is Daniel legally culpable? Who is working on it: The Terasem Movement, founded by lawyer and satellite communications entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt, explores practical and philosophical issues surrounding nanotechnology and cyberconsciousness. It publishes two journals to that end, The Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology and The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness, and this December, Terasem will hold its Fourth Annual Colloquium on the Law of Futuristic Persons. Mental Privacy: Sure, you'll want to keep the details of your genome safe from insurance companies and future employers, but the next battlefield of personal privacy may be your mind. Researchers are working to develop remote EEGs and other brainwave detectors that could one day be used as stealth lie detectors or a new layer of airport security. Brain fingerprinting technology, which tests whether suspects have knowledge of a specific crime, is currently admissible in court. And with mind-wiping drugs, psychotropic weapons, and skull-directed advertising entering the arena, your brain may soon need its own attorney. Who is working on it: The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, headed by UC Davis professor Wrye Sententia, investigates the impact of new technology on mental liberty and aims to develop policies that will preserve privacy, autonomy, and choice with regard to thought, memory, and cognitive development. And certainly there are firms whose associates are busily researching legal ways to get inside your head. Extraterrestrial Property: For several decades, the field of space law was focused on the extraplanetary actions of governments and the placement of satellites in orbit. But as private enterprises turn their sights on the stars, legal scholars have been forced to ponder just who will own the final frontier. Who is working on it: Virgiliu Pop, a researcher at the Romanian Space Agency who once jokingly claimed ownership of the sun, has written extensively on the perils of allowing individuals to stake extraterrestrial claims without the recognition of the entire international community. Others, like Space Settlement Institute executives Alan Wasser and Douglas Jobes, have written about approaching a real estate framework from a perspective of colonization. Cryonic Trusts and Estates: Sure, you could wake up from cryostasis like Philip J. Fry did, with a waiting job and a thousand years of interest in your savings account. But you might also end up like Transmetropolitan's Revivals, cast at your most mentally fragile upon an uncaring society. Don't take any chances. Before you step into that freezer, set up a cryonic trust to ensure that you're still rich once you've thawed out. Who is working on it: If you're planning on going into deep-freeze, there are attorneys prepared to do your cryonic and personal revival estate planning. Travel along the Beltway to contract the services of John Dedon at Odin, Feldman & Pittleman in Fairfax, Virginia, or Christopher Sega at DC firm Venable. Interspecies Family Law: When first contact happens without a condom and ends in a shotgun wedding, you and your multigenetic kin might find yourselves in murky legal waters. What do you do when your sweetie's marriage laws require a third partner and your state won't budge past the binary? Will you have to participate in those pesky father-son rituals that involve male bonding through meditative pain? And do you duke out the inevitable divorce in court, or fend off alimony claims in far more humane hand-to-hand combat? Who is working on it: We're sure that many big and famous law firms are hard at work on the hypotheticals of intergalactic jurisprudence. For now, we will forward all otherworldly complaints to the attorneys at Crane, Constable, McNeil & Montero, the law offices of Sebben & Sebben, and the senior partners of Wolfram & Hart.
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