Future Computer Forensics on Almost Human

Almost Human’s episode “Perception” presented a fantastic case study of computer forensics in 2048. The episode also showed the best legal issues to date.

The episode included augmented reality post-it notes, biometric security, 3D drug printing with data backed up to the Cloud, text messages, hacking, a lawyer appearing via hologram while a client was being questioned by the police and paying a private eye to destroy evidence for his client. It was literally like an eDiscovery pinata exploded.

Let’s break down the issues:

Virtual Post It Notes

Both John Kennex and the “bad guy” had augmented reality post-it notes. Kennex’s notes related back to the events that put him in a coma; the villain’s those who were responsible for her daughter’s death. Both had a subtle Moby Dick element to them on how revenge could lead to one’s ultimate destruction.

Herman Melville aside, figuring out how to make a byte-by-byte image of virtual post-it notes could make a computer forensic expert yell, “to the last I grapple with thee.” Where is the computer from which the data was generated? Is it in a cloud? Or something totally different. An expert would need to know how the augmented reality worked and the location of the device that generated the data in order to capture it.

Alternatively, they could just take a photo of the floating virtual post-it note.

AlmostHuman_86563D Drug Printing

The 3D drug printing with cloud back-up was a beautiful example of existing technology in the future. The manufacture of drugs is a regulated industry. Licenses are required for pharmacists. Moreover, the data backed-up to the cloud would protected under both the Stored Communication Act (which hopefully will be updated before 2048) and the 4th Amendment (which hopefully will not be still under attack in 2048).

The intersection of heavily regulated device and cloud storage poses an interesting question: would the license for the 3D drug printer require as part of its license the waiving of rights under the 4th Amendment and Stored Communication Act to ensure it is not being used for an unlawful purpose? My gut says this would be the case.

Text Messages

Existing computer forensics has acquiring this data pretty nailed. Many companies have tools to capture the data, whether it is on the local device, the cloud or a service provider.

The question remains, did the police get a warrant for the father-daughter communications?

Lawyer On-Demand

Every attorney should take comfort that there are still lawyers in 2048 working at law firms. Almost Human is one of the few police shows that actually honored the right to remain silent and counsel in ages. The idea of being able to call your attorney for an instant virtual meeting currently can be done with video conference technology. Making your lawyer an on-demand hologram would just be cool.

And awesome billing entries: “Holographic meeting with client. 0.3”

Intentional Crimes

Both computer hacking with the intent to kill and the willful destruction of evidence are crimes. The hacking the 3D printer will end in first degree murder charges. The PI destroying recordings done for client that he was then paid to destroy will at a minimum cost him his PI license and at most bring charges for obstruction of justice.

Hat Tip

My compliments to the production team on highlighting real legal issues with technology in a way that moved the story along, without getting lost in the tech. Job well done.

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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.