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, semen, 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 anti-doping 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 back up 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. For example, watch this creative short film:
- 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.
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.
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.