Thursday, December 13, 2012

Distributed Production... And Sex

The future’s so bright I gotta print my own shades.

Yep. It’s coming folks.

The death of the High Street shop. The death even of the internet mail order vendor.

At some point in the near future, when we find that our Breville sandwich toaster has gone on the fritz, we won’t bother heading out to Curry’s or surfing our way to Amazon to buy a new one. We’ll merely download a set of instructions from the internet and print a new one off in the comfort of our very own home.

The technology behind 3D printing is becoming more and more commonplace. Less of a freaky Tomorrow’s World prediction for AD2450 and more of a marketing forecast for AD2018. Google can already present you with hundreds of images of items fresh off the 3D printing production line.

What is amazing about them is their sheer diversity and complexity.

Our children are going to grow up in a world where people print their own cars, print their own tools and print their own kitchen appliances. And that’s just for starters.

On the face of it the technology of “distributed production” is awe inspiring. The command of science and physics involved in the process is incredible. The fact our species is making it all so commonplace and open to the general consumer is even more phenomenal.

But, of course, there is a disturbing dark side to this huge leap of technology.

It’s bad enough people downloading bomb making instructions without them being able to print off a real bomb directly from the internet. Not to mention grenades, knives, AK-47s and tanks. OK. Maybe tanks is a bit farfetched but the technology will reach that point one day. The MoD won’t bother with manufacturing plants; it’ll just have a warehouse with a huge eff-off printer that will print off whatever military hardware it currently needs. And you can bet your freshly 3D printed bottom dollar that there will be shady organizations all around the world with enough money to purchase such an eff-off printer for themselves... and suddenly, hey presto, as Prince, memorably sang a couple of decades ago, “mommy, why does everybody have a bomb?”

Rules and regulations will need to be put into place and they will need to be constantly monitored and policed. Kind of the way they are now to stop people pirating music, images and films off the internet.

OK. Maybe that’s not such a good example...

On the lighter side of it all though the technology should enable us to not only print something from a supplied design but also allow us to customize it to our own – to make it truly bespoke. I mean, who wouldn’t want a personalized Breville toaster with wings and built in Wi-Fi?

And why stop at kitchen appliances? What about bedroom appliances?

3D printing will revolutionize the porn industry.

No more plain brown paper parcels (batteries not included) from Sweden. No more avoiding eye contact with the postman or the FedEx courier when he drops off your latest blow-up sheep from Germany.

Soon you’ll be able to design and print off your own to your own personalized specifications. You’ll be able to tweak every fold and crevice.

Just make sure you always have a good supply of “ink” to hand.

Nothing will be more galling than running out just as you reach the good bits...

16 comments:

Löst Jimmy said...

I'm waiting for the technology that gives the discerning customer a, ahem, fully fuctional android that looks like 'Annalee Call' from Alien Resurrection...after which I may never leave the house.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: ooh, good call. Run off a quick xerox for me too please.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Old hat. The holodeck in Star Trek has already shown us a world where anything and anyone can be replicated. If you get your DNA sequenced, future generations will be able to recreate you as an archetypal beardie character from the 21st century. You'll end up doing things you never imagined in your current life.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

How strange. I've just read an (ink and paper) article in the NZ Listener about Vik Olliver, who helped develop the RepRap 3D printer. He is planning to use the technology down on the farm in his move towards self-sufficiency here in NZ.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: like being happy in my job? That kind of paradox would rend a hole in reality itself.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: I assume he's going to print off some farming hardware as opposed to livestock...?

libby said...

I is afeared o'technology.....

Steve said...

Libby: you're living in the wrong age, my friend, 'tis all around us.

the fly in the web said...

They must have been using politicians as prototypes for some time now...

Steve said...

The fly in the web: it could be a new marketing trend - "print your own village idiot".

The bike shed said...

I won't bemoan the demise of shops though - bookshops excepted

Steve said...

The Bike Shed: I agree - though printing your own books has an appeal...

Livi TeePot said...

oh it's all so sad, I long for a simpler time...though one in which twitter still exists! lol!

Steve said...

Livi: I think Twitter and a simpler time are mutually exclusive.

Marginalia said...

I thought your comment on the benefits of 3D printing for the porn industry was right on the button so to speak.

Keith said...

I'm still dealing with the concept of microwave ovens.

Steve said...

Marginalia: glad to know I have a handle on it.

Keith: Casio calculators still freak me out.