There is an amazing article at LegalAffairs.org about human nature. It's technically about the need to plan ahead for the inevitable emergence of Artificial Intelligence and its legal status but to come to any conclusions about that subject you need to take a hard look at what we are as humans.
"But some A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) researchers believe that moment might not be far off. And as their creations begin to display a growing number of human attributes and capabilities—as computers write poems and serve as caretakers and receptionists—these researchers have begun to explore the ethical and legal status of their creations. "Strong A.I." is the theory that machines can be built that will not merely act as if conscious, but will actually be conscious, and advocates of this view envision a two-front assault on the fortress of human exceptionalism involving both the physical and functional properties of the brain. And these researchers predict a breach within the next half-century."
Human exceptionalism is why we blame the problems with law on the politicians an not on those who elected them. Maybe faith is the problem. We have food stuck in our teeth but we're supposedly created in God's image so there is no need to look in the mirror.
There is an interesting flash presentation about the future of the media that raises some interesting questions. We blame politicians for the problems with the country just as we blame the media outlets for crap tv and the death of hard news. So here is my idea: Media doesn't shape society as much as it is a reflection of our current level of awareness. Politicians are only as corrupt as we and the systems we've designed allow them to be. The author of the flash presentation doesn't come to any real conclusions about what to do about the problem. If media is just a reflection of who we are then it makes sense to assume that if we put some hard thought into improving education the media landscape will eventually reflect that change. Here's the problem, democracy is as painfully short sighted as the average voter. Low prescription drug prices and entitlement programs trump education and always will. Democracy is the best system available and it has a fatal flaw.
Just a quick software note about strong AI. In my opinion it'd be much much easier to create a system from which consciousness emerges than to try to create consciousness using predefined rules. At least one argument in favor of unplugging the machine from the Law Review article is invalid. Check out my caffeine fueled post on emergence here.