Proctor : October 2017
59 PROCTOR | October 2017 Why 2017 is a sexy little number And we still await the end of law as we know it 2017 is an auspicious year, and not just because 2017 is a sexy prime (this is a real thing, and not in the least bit sexy as normal human beings who don’t understand maths would regard it; look it up next time you are so bored that attempting to catch a bowling ball on your forehead begins to appeal – say, when you are at dinner with barristers). It is auspicious (which is also a real thing, albeit not exactly what I am after here, but I use it because I like it and I am fairly sure no one will look it up) because 50 years ago I was born, despite the accompanying photo which, I concede, looks as if I were born prior to photographic technology being perfected. It was a good time to be born, because it meant that when I graduated from high school it was during a rare period when we weren’t involved in a major war which required drafting people into the army; also, Bob Hawke had not yet come up with his brilliant idea of getting more poor people into university by making it ridiculously expensive to go there. You might think that would be like attempting to cure homelessness by doubling the rent, but you don’t have the trained mind of a politician who once held a world beer-drinking record (and who may well have spent time using the above bowling ball-themed cure for boredom prior to coming up with the policy). In any event, the fortunate happenstance of being born in 1967 meant that I graduated university (as far as anyone can tell) without a HECS debt, as opposed to students these days who emerge from university with a bill that looks like Bronwyn Bishop’s travel claim. In fairness to Hawke, his plan was a complete success, as long as his goal was the world’s best-qualified dole queue and university chancellors so rich they will be able to heat their homes well into the next century by burning $50 notes dipped in caviar. Also, you will probably never again be the only person in your street with an Australian law degree, even if your street is on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. My point is that 1967 was a great year to be born, as the music was great and the competition wasn’t; for example, look up a list of famous people born in 1967 and you’ll find candidates like Kurt Cobain – famous for having a musical career despite having no actual musical talent – and South African Test cricketer Daryl Cullinan. Sure, being a Test cricketer is pretty cool, but Cullinan is mostly remembered for curling up into a ball on the floor and shivering at the mere mention of Shane Warne’s name – so even 20 years of writing a humour column for which I am not paid and which maybe 10 people read looks good from the class of ’67. 2017 is also an important year because it is the 30 anniversary of computer geeks telling me that lawyers will be replaced by robots. I first heard this from a mate back in 1987, who had then completed a degree in applied science computing (and went by the enigmatic name of ‘The Wah’). He assured me that in five years’ time there would be no lawyers left, and the computer industry in general agreed – leading me to think that a good motto for the computer industry would be ‘Computer geeks: confidently predicting the imminent demise of the legal profession for 30 years’. Not that much has changed in that regard – you can’t heave a virtual rock in cyberspace without hitting Richard Susskind or one of his disciples doing a hearty rendition of ‘the sky is falling’ and rubbing their hands with glee over the end of law. If we were allowed to heave real rocks I suspect the problem would go away, but Susskind doesn’t spend a lot of time in the real world – but then again, who does? Certainly, my kids spend a great deal of time in virtual worlds, even though my wife and I have strict regulations around electronic devices and collect the iPads, iPods, iPhones and everything else with an ‘i’ in front of it and put them away after a certain time, to the extent that if your name is Ian and you were at our house around 6.30pm you’d probably end up stuffed in a drawer. It doesn’t matter though – except perhaps to Ian – because it is very difficult to detect and neutralise all the internet-enabled gear in the house, which probably includes my daughter’s Shopkins and the rock my son found at the park two years ago and refuses to remove from his room. So with my son’s birthday coming up, we are on the lookout for a non-internet enabled toy; he has suggested an Xbox, because he feels our sub-optimal grasp of technology will not alert us to the fact that an Xbox can probably remotely control the International Space Station if you got hold of the password – and given that the password is probably something like ‘NASA 7’, this shouldn’t be too hard. Given that these days we have internet- connected coffee-makers, paper and nappies (no, I do not want to know how they work), I don’t expect my search to be easy, but I will try hard to find a toy that can’t find the internet; if the International Space Station turns up at your local Maccas and orders a happy meal, you’ll know how I went. Suburban cowboy by Shane Budden © Shane Budden 2017. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.