Technology always seems to be a step ahead of the law, and that is not always a good thing.
In the latest stretch of technology's imagination, for example, researchers have developed a 3D printer that can make human skin. It is designed to cover and heal wounds.
Legal minds will differ, of course, because we can argue the pros and cons about almost anything. As for new technologies, however, the best we may be able to do is try to keep up.
3D Printers and Legal Issues
The 3D printer emerged from the 1980s, and has raised myriad legal issues. The World Intellectual Property Organization says it is a "potentially transformative technology for intellectual property."
WIPO says the technology is evolving at a "breathtaking pace," with applications in industries as diverse as food and fashion to medicine and prosthetics. That was last year.
This year, researchers at the University of Toronto have figured out how to print skin. Their hand-held device rolls outs a "bio ink" skin tissue directly onto affected areas in two minutes.
Even if people replicate their own skin, IP issues will still be there. Not that anyone could abuse the technology, but can you say "fake fingerprints?"
Some technologies, like self-driving cars, get all the headlines. Driverless regulations, crashes, and litigation are just a few.
The first test cars rolled out in 2010, but the law hasn't kept up. Congress is still struggling with the self-driving issue, while lawyers are taking it apart one lawsuit at a time.
Some think it is a good thing that the law is lagging behind technology. In the startup age, they say, innovators and technology need freedom to evolve without legal constraints.
That has to get under some lawyer's skin.