|The author with Dr. Ernst Fasan, Prague, Sept. 29, 2010|
In 1956, Haley published an article entitled “Space Law and Metalaw – A Synoptic View,” in which Haley first proposed his “Interstellar Golden Rule”: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. Haley rejected the traditional formulation of the Golden Rule as articulated by philosophers throughout the ages (from Confucius to Aristotle to Rabbi Hillel and Jesus to Abdullah Ansari) because, Haley said, in Metalaw “we deal with all frames of existence – with sapient beings different in kind. We must do unto others in different frames of reference . . . To treat others as we would desire to be treated might well mean their destruction. We must treat them as they desire to be treated.” According to Haley, we can project only one principle of human law onto our possible future relations with an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI): “the stark concept of absolute equity.”
Haley developed his ideas somewhat further in various papers and a book prior to his death in 1966, but significant elaboration of his ideas did not take place until the publication in 1970 of what remains the seminal metalegal work, Relations with Alien Intelligences: The Scientific Basis of Metalaw, written by Dr. Ernst Fasan.
I regard Dr. Ernst Fasan as one of the most visionary legal thinkers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Born in 1926 in Vienna, Dr. Fasan was a practicing attorney in 1958 when he helped to establish the Permanent Committee on Space Law of the International Astronautical Federation. Two years later his friend and colleague Andrew Haley invited him to join the committee's successor, the International Institute of Space Law. He has published numerous articles on problems of space law, including Metalaw. He remains active in the SETI field as a member of the SETI Permanent Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics.
Unfortunately, in recent decades few lawyers or scientists have shown an interest in continuing the pioneering metalegal work of Andrew Haley and Dr. Fasan. The few papers that have been published by other writers on Metalaw have tended to be more descriptive of the past than generative of new directions for Metalaw. This is understandable. The subject isn't likely to advance the careers of either working attorneys or legal academicians. However, this could prove unfortunate. History is replete with examples of the human race being overtaken by profoundly disruptive events for which it has not prepared, despite having adequate time to do so and also having plenty of warning. Human-generated climate change is a current, albeit negative, example. Possible future contact with ETI may be another, and we don't know if that experience will be positive or negative, if it ever occurs. I think it may be both, but it will certainly be highly disruptive socially.
|The author at the Kavli Royal Society Centre, Oct. 6, 2010|
The second potential shortcoming that concerned me was the fact that early metalegal thinking did not anticipate a future development of scientific thinking regarding ETI -- that ETI is likely to be artificially intelligent machine rather than a living, biological being. If we know little about legal relationships with alien intelligences, we know even less about legal relationships with alien machine intelligences. Why? Because we know next to nothing about our legal relationships with human-made artificial intelligence, which we are just now developing.
|The author with Dr. Alexander Zaitsev|
I was scheduled to present dead last, at end of the day. About an hour before it was my turn, a tall, distinguished gentleman sat down in the row in front of me. From his profile, I recognized instantly that it was Dr. Fasan, although the only photo of him I had ever seen was on the cover of his book published in 1970. (During my presentation I joked that I wasn't nervous until he entered the room.) After my presentation, Dr. Fasan spoke briefly to address some of the points raised in my paper, and then we had the opportunity to meet and chat briefly. Meeting Dr. Fasan and having the unexpected opportunity to present him with a bound copy of my paper was the highlight of my visit to Prague.
|Chicheley Hall, Kavli Royal Society Centre, UK|
A week later I boarded the Eurostar in Paris and chunneled my way over to London, caught another train to Bedford, and then taxied over to the Kavli Royal Society International Centre at Chicheley Hall, where I was met by the smiling and friendly Dr. Alexander Zaitsev from Russia. I had met Sasha two years earlier at the 1st Searching for Life Symposium held at UNESCO in Paris and had corresponded with him intermittently since then. Sasha is a significant figure in the Active SETI controversy.
|The author presents at the Kavli Royal Society Centre|
It was an adventure, albeit an expensive one -- but well worth the cost.