The coming decades will bring about a stunning variety of unique crimes that previous generations would never have thought possible. The following list is a preview of the future crimes set to keep future law enforcement agencies frustrated well into the end of this mid-century.
(Note that we plan to edit and grow this list semiannually, so be sure to bookmark this page to keep tabs on all the changes.)
Health-related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Health, the following health-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Unauthorized human cloning for reproductive or organ harvesting purposes.
- Using a sample of a person’s DNA to clone stem cells that can be used to clone blood, skin, hair and other body parts that can be left at the scene of a crime to frame a person using perfect DNA evidence. Once this tech becomes widespread, the use of DNA evidence will increasingly become useless in a court of law.
- Using a sample of person’s DNA to genetically engineer a deadly virus that only kills said target individual and no one else.
- Using genetic engineering to create a eugenic virus that hospitalizes, disables or kills individuals of an identifiable race of humans.
- Hacking into a person’s health monitoring app to make them think they are becoming ill and encouraging them to take specific pills that they shouldn’t be taking.
- Hacking into a hospital's central computer operating system to adjust a target patient's files to get hospital staff to unknowingly deliver medication or surgery that can be life threatening to said patient.
- Instead of stealing the credit card information of millions from banks and e-commerce companies, future hackers will steal the biometric data of millions from hospitals and health apps to sell to niche drug manufacturers and pharma companies.
Evolution-related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Human Evolution, the following evolution related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Engineering performance enhancing drugs that are not only undetectable by antidoping agencies, but also give users superhuman abilities never before seen prior to 2020.
- Re-engineering a person's genetic makeup to give them superhuman abilities without the need of outside drugs.
- Editing the DNA of your children to give them superhuman enhancements without government approval.
Computer science related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Computers, the following computational device related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- When it becomes possible to upload and backup a person’s mind into a computer, it will then become possible to kidnap said person’s mind or consciousness.
- Using quantum computers to hack into any encrypted system without permission; this would be especially devastating for communications, finance, and government networks.
- Hacking into the Internet-connected products and appliances in your home (via the Internet of Things) to spy on you or kill you, e.g. activating your oven while you sleep.
- Engineering an immoral artificial intelligence (AI) to hack or cyber attack specific targets on the engineer's behalf.
- Hacking into someone’s wearable device to spy on them or gain access to their data.
- Using a thought reading device to secure sensitive or confidential information from a target victim or implant false memories into said victim, similar to the movie, Inception.
- Violating the rights or murdering an AI that is recognized as a legal entity.
Internet related future crimes
From our series on the Future of the Internet, the following Internet-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Hacking into a person’s AR or VR headset/glasses/contact lenses to spy on what they are looking at.
- Hacking into a person’s AR or VR headset/glasses/contact lenses to manipulate what they are looking at.
- Once the remaining four billion people on Earth gain access to the Internet, traditional Internet scams will see a gold rush in the developing world.
Entertainment related crimes
The following entertainment related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Having VR sex with an avatar that has the likeness of a real person, but doing so without that real person's consent.
- Having sex with a robot that has the likeness of a real person, but doing so without that real person's consent.
- The sale and consumption of restricted chemical and digital drugs that will debut in the future; read more in chapter four of this series.
- Participating in future extreme sports where genetic enhancement and performance enhancing drugs are mandatory to participate.
Culture related crimes
The following culture related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Marriage between a human and AI will become the civil rights issue of a future generation.
- Discriminating against an individual based on their genetics.
City or urban related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Cities, the following urbanization-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Hacking into various city infrastructure systems to disable or destroy their proper functioning (has already happening based on isolated reports).
- Hacking into a city’s CCTV system to find and track a target victim.
- Hacking into automated construction machines to have them build fatal flaws into a building, flaws that can be used to more easily break into a building or have that building collapse entirely at a future date.
Environment and climate change related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Climate Change, the following environment-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Using genetic engineering to create a virus that kills a specific species of animals or insects without the approval of the international community.
- Using genetic engineering to create a new species of animal or insect without the approval of the international community.
- Making use of geoengineering technology to change aspects of the Earth’s environment or climate without the permission of the international community.
Education related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Education, the following education-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Engineering custom nootropic drugs that give users superhuman cognitive abilities, thereby making most traditional forms of educational testing obsolete.
- Purchasing a black market AI to do all of your homework.
Energy-related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Energy, the following energy-related legal future crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Siphoning off your neighbor’s wireless electricity, similar in concept to stealing your neighbor’s wifi.
- Building a nuclear, thorium, or fusion reactor on your property without government approval.
- Hacking into a country’s power grid.
Food related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Food, the following food-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Cloning livestock without a government license.
- Hacking into the controls of a city’s vertical farms to ruin crops.
- Hacking into the controls of a smart farm’s robotic drones to steal or ruin its crops.
- Introducing a genetically engineered disease into meat produced at an aquaculture farm or an in-vitro meat processing lab.
Robot related future crimes
The following robot related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Hacking into a commercial or consumer drone to remotely steal it or injure/kill someone.
- Hacking into a fleet commercial or consumer drones to disrupt drone shipping or cause massive damage by having them ram into buildings and infrastructure.
- Flying a drone that broadcasts a malware virus through a neighborhood to infect the personal computers of its residents.
- Stealing the home care robot belonging to an elderly or disabled person.
- Hacking into a person’s sex robot to have it kill its owner during intercourse (depending on the size of said robot).
Transportation related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Transportation, the following transportation-related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- Hacking into a single autonomous vehicle to remotely steal it, remotely kidnap someone, remotely crash and kill the passengers, and even remotely deliver a bomb to a target.
- Hacking into a fleet of autonomous vehicles to cause mass traffic jams or mass fatalities.
- Similar scenarios for autonomous planes and ships.
- Hacking into shipping trucks for easy merchandise theft.
Employment related future crimes
From our series on the Future of Work, the following employment related crimes will become possible by 2040:
- The destruction of one or many autonomous worker robots by disgruntled human workers, similar to the destruction of looms by the Luddites.
- Stealing another person’s Universal Basic Income payment—a future form of welfare fraud.
These are just a sampling of the wide range of novel crimes that will become possible over the decades to come. Like it or not, we’re living in some extraordinary times.