So recently, for those doing Daf Yomi, the Gemara Shabbat has been discussing the minimum amounts one would be liable for carrying from public to private domain (or vice versa) on Shabbat. Transferring in such a way is not allowed on Shabbat, so the Gemara spends a lot of time discussing what amount of a given material is considered “significant.” If you carry out less than the significant amount, you haven’t violated the Torah. Now what I found interesting is that these amounts are defined by societal norms; the “significant” amount is defined by the smallest amount it is commonly used as. For example, amounts in the Mishnayot are defined as “enough to cover this specific thing” or “enough to make this tiny tool.” We don’t often get units in these amounts, because the amounts define common use. Significance is defined by use.
So my question is, I’m assuming that the significant amount for many of these items has changed nowadays. We use materials in tiny amounts for circuitry, for example, which might be considered common enough. From an orthodox perspective, I can’t imagine anyone saying that we are more lenient today and define larger amounts due to the supremacy of early rabbinic law, but does anyone know if anyone has perhaps shrunk the amount for liability due to our changing society?