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IEET > Life > Innovation > Vision > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Valkyrie Ice McGill

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The Radicalness Of 3D Printing


Valkyrie McGill
Valkyrie McGill
Acceler8or.com

Posted: Oct 7, 2012

Way back in February of 2011, I wrote an extensive article for H+ on 3D printing and how it would allow a transition between an economy based on material “value” and scarcity to one based on nonmaterial “value” and abundance.

Also, in a later article, I expanded on why this is inevitable and wrote, “it should be obvious that 3d printers allow for goods to behave as if they were nonmaterial. All you need is a single item and you can make an infinite number of copies.” Basically, once 3d printing is refined to a point in the not very distant future to where it can manufacture almost any arbitrary product, the value of that product will reside in the computer file, not the actual physical object.

So now, “The Motley Fool” is repeating my logic to sell investors on 3d printing: “If a physical object is a software code, then… there are no longer economies of scale in manufacturing.”

In other words, it won’t make sense any more to pay Chinese factory workers to make 100 million duplicates of the same product. Better to pay American designers to make 10,000 different products specially tailored to individual customers — in the exact size and style they want to buy. Products they can receive in the mail, or print out at Home Depot, FedEx Office, Wal-Mart, or whichever retailers are smart enough to embrace this technology first.

If a physical object is a software code, then… everyone from an aerospace engineer to an ice sculptor is really a computer programmer creating digital designs. And the market for those designs will be just like today’s market for music, movies, and books. You’ll have the iTunes store, Amazon.com, and other legitimate download vendors on one side of the law, and a thousand fugitive “pirate bays” on the other.

Now, I would change the language of “legitimate download vendors” for “corporate gatekeepers trying to lock people into proprietary designs intended to prevent competition” and “pirate bays” with “the open source free market”.. but you get the idea. Big Business is starting to realize, as predicted, the vast potential for profits that can be generated right up to the final stages, when home printers become as common as smartphones.  As I stated previously:

“Look at this from the manufacturer’s side. The only cost they have incurred is the R&D cost of designing an item, and the cost of running a website. They don’t even have to concern themselves with obtaining the raw materials to make an item from, nor do they have to pay a staff to run the printers, pay the electric bills to run the printers, rent a building to house the printers, pay a transporter to haul the products to market, have a warehouse to store extra products. In fact, they will have put ALL of these issues off on the customer. All that they will have to be concerned about is designing a product, testing a few dozen prototypes to fix the rough edges, and viola, a market ready product at minimal cost that need only sell a few thousand copies to pay off design fees, at which point everything else is pure profit.

If I have faith in anything, it’s in corporate greed. Once it’s cheap and easy to put a 3D printer in every home, and eliminate every cost of manufacturing to the “manufacturer” by passing it on to the customer, major corporations will get it done in a heartbeat. And they won’t give a damn about the consequences, because the only concern will be the profit of the moment.  CEOs will be all too happy about the billions they will save by making their companies cost nearly nothing to run, while still selling the same number of products at the same price they used too.  It’s all too predictable.

But the fact will still remain that by doing so, those very same corporations will be destroying themselves. They will be counting on their brands to continue carrying the same weight they did in the industrial era, and they will assume that by eliminating costs, they will be able to keep on charging the same price while making almost pure profit. And they will be right, at first.”

The Motley Fool is making the same case, telling individual investors that 3d printing is going to be a massive money maker, using the same logical points I made almost 2 years ago. And this will drive investment in further research and improvements in 3D printers. In fact, Makerbot just released its nest generation printer.

But to be honest, there is still much work to be done before 3D printing on the scale that I’m talking about can occur. One of the much needed improvements is in the “resolution” of the finest details that can be printed. Fortunately, this is being worked on. The Vienna University of technology is working on printers able to work on the micrometer scale, which is a major needed step for printing electronics and biological tissue. When this hits industrial scale in about five to six years, we will probably have advanced the precision even further to the Nanoscale, though I would qualify that by saying that Nanoscale precision is likely to only be able to use specific materials, namely graphene and other single atom thick materials. True “nanofactories” able to use every element will take longer.

However, even micrometer scale manufacturing is going to enable some very radical technological upheavals, as they will enable the first stages of bioprinting and electronics printing. This makes in-vitro food manufacturing and the kind of body modifications I discussed in my article on Gender Change well within the realm of feasibility, as well as the majority of the products I’ve discussed in the past such as QLed displaysSkin tight exoskeletons, film electronics,  and active cloth.

And yet another field in which 3D printers need improving is the “ease of use” factor. This is also being addressed by software that can analyze the 3D model and apply engineering “artificial expertise” to modify the object in a manner that provides greater strength to the finished project. This is an example of a high level interface to a low level process.

The end user doesn’t need to know engineering, because the software provides the engineering knowledge. This is one of the vital steps towards making 3D printing so easy to use that anyone can design a product that can compete in the open market. Another example is software that makes custom DNA design as simple as drag and drop. Once you can use 3d printers to “print DNA”, such software could enable radical technologies as custom designing your own DNA to, oh, say, change your “species” to succubus? Or create “mythological” animals such as griffins and unicorns?

Needless to say, as radical as those concepts might seem now, as time goes by, it’s going to start seeming more and more mainstream. As more and more people begin realizing the possibilities, and begin exploring them, it’s going to lead to even greater radicalness than this.


Valkyrie Ice is a writer and futurist for Acceler8or.com and H+ magazine.
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COMMENTS


What is neat about storing and printing DNA is that people could go back in time and mate with popular people who had their DNA backed up. For example you could have children that are part your DNA (for loyalty to you), and part DNA of Einstein, introducing genius (or DNA of other selected people, such as the very rich and/or talented) into your family. Whereas some people’s DNA could be for sale, some very special DNA might be free, giving hope to everyone to have special DNA babies..even in same sex marriages.





That’s one possibility yes, however printing DNA also opens up the ability to customize your own “perfect” DNA match, i.e. making a custom genome with all the characteristics you want in a child. The problem with this is that it violates the child’s rights to free will, sets up the whole “supermench” argument, and would be rather pointless given that by the time such a child matures, such DNA printing tech is going to render any “improvements” obsolete.

A much more likely scenario is revising your own DNA and using a combination of gene therapy and stemcell body shaping to convert yourself into your own “perfect” human.





Free will is not always safer. For example when driving everyone has little free will, and has to adhere to safety standards. Also, throughout the history of life on the earth, the parents have always decided who to have a baby with rather than the babies chose their parents (unless you believe in ghosts and reincarnation).

Regarding DNA upgrades after development, it would be much more difficult to change the DNA in all the billions of cells in your body than before conception where there is only one cell to modify. grin





Possible Sci-Fi Ad Campaign: “Love(More than Facebook-like) Einstein on Evolve.com or your kids could fall behind in school.”.





Sci-Fi Ad Campaign: “Send us the DNA in your hair, having smart kids no longer requires prayer. Visit Evolve.com and ‘Love’ Einstein, so your kids don’t fall behind. If you’re gay or single that’s also fine.

Evolve.com: ‘Let’s conceive online.’





Families could be deciding in advance the DNA ratios for their children, balancing talent with loyalty. 
For example the children is more likely to be more loyal to their parents the more DNA of the parents is mixed in.
However, making test-tube babies or clones with *100%* of Einstein’s DNA would guarantee their ‘children’ are the smartest they can be, smarter than (almost) everyone else.





@Bill

I’ve had this argument too many times.  By the time the child matures, the “improvements” will be obsolete.  It’s like buying a baby a computer. By the time they are old enough to benefit from it, it’s so outdated as to no longer give any advantage.

The speed with which we are developing DNA manipulation and gene therapy strongly indicates that before a “Superior DNA” child could even reach school age, the ability to retro-engineer our own DNA is likely to be a reality, despite the number of cells needing change. There are numerous mechanisms already in place in the body that can be exploited to change DNA in situ, which is why gene therapy even works to begin with. And that does not even begin to cover the possibilities of fully controllable Stem Cells or other nanodevices.

Simply put, I can understand your line of reasoning, I cannot however see it as a viable program for more than a year or two before the technology so far outpaces it that the “benefits” that could be gained via in-vitro gene manipulation of a fertilized egg will be negligible compared to the “benefits” that could be gained via either adult DNA manipulation, or various cybernetic enhancements.

The whole “genetic supermen” idea simply cannot keep pace with the advancement of DNA research and development.





And by the time that child is able to use said intelligence, it will utterly pale in comparison to the cyber implant that can make anyone a hundred times more brilliant than Einstein.

The DNA upgrade via in-vitro modification simply takes too long, and will simply be supplanted.  As for “ensuring the child’s loyalty” that’s merely creeping me out.





Wanting love from your children is creepy but cyber implants is creepier. grin





No Bill, you specifically said LOYALTY, not love.  They are not synonyms.  Loyalty is what dictators desire. Unquestioning loyalty is not and never will be the same as love. Programming a child to unending subservience to the adult is not the same as wanting a child’s love. Sounds more like you have a control issue than a desire for what is best for the child. I’ve know too many parents who have destroyed their children by pushing them to be something that they are not and have no desire to be. Based on just the words you’ve written so far, it doesn’t sound to me like you want a child, but an improved surrogate of yourself who will be totally subservient to your desires. That’s not a Child, but a Slave.

And I am equally certain that you may not think you have implied such, but until this last post you have never used the word “Love” but made much emphasis on “Loyalty”. To Quote: “Families could be deciding in advance the DNA ratios for their children, balancing talent with _loyalty_. 
For example the children is more likely to be more _loyal_ to their parents the more DNA of the parents is mixed in.” Two mentions of loyalty. No mention of love. The assumption underlying this statement is that a child with no genetic material from their parent will have no _loyalty_ to that parent, as in they will never love or respect them, and therefore cannot be expected to be subservient to the parent. As an adopted child I can provide myself as a example of the falseness of that assumption. Love is not dependent on genetic similarity.

And again, none of that really matters, because the technology to make any level of “in-vitro” modification to a embryo will be replaced by far more sophisticated DNA manipulation in Adults as well as cybernetic enhancements long before the child reaches maturity.





Sorry Valkrye
   I apologize for making the wrong choice of words. I have been looking up the difference on the net and now see the difference.  It’s so distant in the future anyways that it is inappropriate for me to have an opinion on the matter. Thank you for your feedback!





For the record, family loyalty is a Christian concept, (http://www.spirituality.org/is/015/page02.asp) so your flames related are understandable if you are not Christian.
  Corporations also need loyalty from their employees, the Borg needs cyber implants in their members. Is the Borg less creepy?





Actually Bill, I am not flaming you, nor am I saying you have no right to have an opinion.  What I AM saying is that the concepts you are expressing are ones that have been around for a very long time, at least since Darwin first proposed Evolution. The concept of “breeding” a “Superman” through genetic manipulation has been an underlying theme of many “Social Darwinist” ideologies for at least a century, if not more. The problem is that now that we actually have a method for doing so, the technology has rendered the concept itself obsolete. At best, the sole error you have made is in not being aware that those concepts have underlain some of the worst genocidal regimes known to man, and that by endorsing them, you open yourself up to some very nasty commentary by those who have some very strong feelings on these matters. I am being quite civil, and merely pointing out that the concept itself is obsolete given the state of the art in the technology.

As for cybertech, I would have to assume you are not a long time reader of my work, or you would know that I have very few worries about authoritarian systems of control making attempts to enslave individuals via technology. The very technology that could enable such efforts is also the same technology that will make those efforts fail. I might suggest reading a few other articles or commentary I have made on IEET, H+ Magazine, and Acceler8or.com to understand why I am unconcerned about it, as I cannot justify writing a 5 page summary in response.

And I am aware that “Family Loyalty” is a “Christian” concept, as well as a “Muslim”, “Jewish”, “Buddhist”, “Shinto”, “Hindu”, and in fact just about every other religion as well as almost every culture on the planet concept. Whether I am “Christian” or not has no bearing on the subject, and could be seen as little more than a “dig” to make you appear to have the “moral high ground”. However, I feel I should warn you that the majority of readers on IEET are atheists, and many do not feel that morality must be dictated by religion.





3D printing is just another name for additive construction (i.e. building things up, as opposed to, for example, chisling a statue out of a block of marble).  OTH, a clean, very very cheap, and super abundant source of energy, combined with the ability to transmute one element into another, would be a transformative technology.

http://coldfusionnow.org/exponential-production-using-lenr-lent-and-3d-printing/

The energy generated from beta-decay kills two birds with one stone, and if you add 3D printing you get exponential production.





The DNA upgrade via in-vitro amendment merely takes too long, and will simply be supplanted.  As for “making sure the child’s loyalty” that’s merely creeping me out.

http://octavinsu.blogspot.com/2013/01/software-erp-indonesia.html

Actually Bill, I am not flaming you, nor am I saying you have no right to have an opinion.  What I AM saying is that the concepts you are expressing are ones that have been around for a very long time, at least since Darwin first proposed Evolution. The concept of “breeding” a “Superman” through genetic manipulation has been an underlying theme of many “Social Darwinist” ideologies for at least a century, if not more. The problem is that now that we actually have a method for doing so, the technology has rendered the concept itself obsolete. At best, the sole error you have made is in not being aware that those concepts have underlain some of the worst genocidal regimes known to man, and that by endorsing them, you open yourself up to some very nasty commentary by those who have some very strong feelings on these matters. I am being quite civil, and merely pointing out that the concept itself is obsolete given the state of the art in the technology.





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