I called it! In a comment here at Vox Popoli I claimed that it may be possible would be used to print guns. Yesterday Bill posted a video showing that it has already happened. When I made that comment on VP I didn’t expect to see 3D printed guns for at least a few years. The world is changing so fast that what seems like science fiction is increasingly becoming mundane.
The full implications of 3D printing have yet to be realized. This is a disruptive technology on par with the original printing press, fire, guns and the factory. Printing guns is only the start. Whilst current 3D printing technology may be beyond the capacity for understanding for most people (myself included) what we have today will be, from a historical perspective, the equivalent of the first revolver.
3D printing will change life and economics permanently. With the ability to manufacture crap much easier (and eventually cheaper) than some third world slave it will undermine many countries whose economy is based on manufacturing cheap shit for America’s uncontrollable consumption. Nothing says that China does not already have an army of 3D printers flooding the market with cheap crap (or building firearms already). The Chinese may not be great innovators but they are second to none at reverse engineering
The idea and mindset behind 3D printing will cause us to look at others way of approaching problems at an everyday level. Imagine a 3D printer for cooking. Add all the ingredients and the thing spits out a cake or a meal. All you have to do is keep the various dispensers topped up. Hell, some innovative basement dwelling Japanese herbivore is probably building a 3D printer capable of manufacturing sex bots.
Whilst you think sexbots the government will probably be thinking more along the lines of this:
As with any game changing technology it promises freedom. Freedom frightens totalitarians. Expect governments to try to control the distribution of 3D printing (will fail) and then they will force manufacturers to start installing reporting technology in all printers they sell, so the gov can see what you are printing. At the other end the government will be monitoring everything that is downloaded and printed off. Since all your internet history is already recorded its unavoidable.
The next great battle for freedom will be evading the eyes of and tendrils of big brother. Hackers who can get around the printer limitations and monitoring will be the freedom fighters of the future. By the way, government infiltrates hacker groups, so be leery of who you ask for advice. Anonymous is run by government shills, hence its toothlessness.
The other ramification will be the change in jobs. With less need for manufacturing more people will be forced into the service sector. With less laboring positions we should have less need for illegals. Hank who used to work in manufacturing can now mow lawns and Jose isn’t really needed but don’t expect anyone in government to point that out soon.
Obvious displays of wealth will be less used since wealth will be cheaper and more easily obtained. Instead, expect people to focus on showing off their status through thrill seeking, gathering experiences, travelling, and consuming non renewable resources such as food, alcohol etc.
Non renewable resources and raw materials will see a huge boost in their relative value, at least at first. Eventually recycling used materials for 3D printing will be a huge industry. In the distant future (which, given the unforeseeable advance of technology means it could actually be very soon) 3D printers may themselves be able to break down components and recycle them into new things. To us that sounds like science fiction but then again how many years ago would 3D printing itself have seemed like distant science fiction.
To continue on the theme of fiction, Vox once made a comment that modern sci-fi writers suck because they cannot understand modern technology. A prescient comment and one that will become increasingly obvious as technology continues to become more and more intricate and closer to magic from the perspective of the layman. True Science fiction will slowly die, given way to fantasy set in space (assuming it is not already dead).
Finally to throw in some “emotional pornography”, aka conspiracy theories, aka speculation: The government knew that 3D printing would soon give way to manufacturing firearms so DHS bought up all that ammo to make those guns useless since 3D printers can’t do ammo, yet.
And wait until 3D printers can print 3D printers…