In most modern democracies, representative governments will attempt to legislate according to what they perceive to be the needs, wants and moralities (the ‘boni mores’) of the majority who voted them in.
Sometimes, the application of those laws goes amiss (between private citizens and governments) and Courts are called upon to intervene, therein necessarily interpreting boni mores (on the basis of what litigants tell them) at a specific moment in time.
But, as the Courts know all too well, boni mores are not static, such that it is never inconceivable that provisions of legislation, or the wise words of Court judgments, even only a few decades old (for that matter, even Constitutions) might become outdated, as no longer reflecting what the people need, want and believe. So, what’s to be done?
In South Africa, for example, our apex Constitution is capable of being amended by means of a two-thirds majority of our National Assembly, but what happens, like many would suggest is now the case, where that National Assembly, comprised of many historical ‘liberators’, has become (to a degree) self-serving and has lost touch with the will of the people (in this case, of the average person)?
What happens when the Courts, tasked with incrementally shaping our constitutional jurisprudence (but necessarily mindful of the express provisions of the Constitution) has similarly lost touch with citizens through no fault of their own (e.g. for reason of being over-burdened, or under-resourced)? How does one foster a common respect for the rule-of-law, when many people do not understand laws, nor the reasons motivating them?
This is where, even with me writing from a country which technologically lags behind the rest of the world, we would be short-sighted if we failed to account for the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Via the interactive nature of the internet and increasing layman access to it, it becomes not so difficult to imagine an ‘online’ platform which, through incentivising people to use it, ethically mines their data, generates ‘digital twins’, and calculates averages in respect of what are the boni mores of a society, alternatively portions of that society.
Would people, knowing that the platform represented, or at least knew what were, relevant boni mores, understand it better and, therefore, subject themselves to their disputes being resolved, or rights and interests being claimed, through it?
Would they accept applied averages as determinative and binding on them? I think so.
I am a quantum computing and scientific layperson, so I cannot purport to know more than that, through some scientific wizardry, quantum computing allows for exponentially-increased processing power and problem solving. But I’m able to extrapolate, so as to imagine a day where, applied to a system such as the above, governments (and even Courts) will be able to ask questions to a computer about the correct prism through which to make decisions and to determine disputes and, with the ability to instantaneously consolidate and organise data, that computer will be able to guide them as to the closest thing to an objectively correct answer at that point in time. It’s an incredible thing to imagine, but one which many of us will see within our lifetimes.