You’ll Soon Be Able to Manufacture Anything You Want and Governments Will Be Powerless to Stop It

Power to the People! According to this Reason report, 3D printing promises a dynamic and uncontrollable world. Here are 4 facts from the article.

  • In the very near future, governments will lose the ability to keep guns, drones, and other forbidden goods out of the hands of their subjects. They’ll also be rendered impotent to enforce trade and technology embargoes. Power is shifting from the state to individuals and small groups courtesy of additive manufacturing—aka 3D printing—technology.
  • The simplicity and low cost of [3D printing] machines, combined with the scope of their potential creations, could profoundly alter global and local economies and affect international security,” write RAND’s Trevor Johnston, Troy D. Smith, and J. Luke Irwin in “Additive Manufacturing in 2040.”
  • “At the domestic level, point-of-sale consumption will no longer be an opportunity for governmental control of risky goods, such as firearms and drones,” they write. “State sovereignty is predicated on a monopoly of force and, at a minimum, the capacity to regulate arms. [Additive manufacturing] will further relax this control, giving private citizens greater access to lethal weapons and other tools of violence.”
  • Additive manufacturing “machines could soon be able to replicate themselves, with organizations such as RepRap and Fab@home providing freely available open-source schematics on how to manufacture the necessary parts,” Johnston, Smith, and Irwin notes. Soon, “point-of-sale controls will not be able to limit (or even track) the proliferation of” 3D printers. And if policymakers try to control the creation and exchange of disapproved designs, “online communities, black markets, and other venues for exchange will make any number of plans and designs readily accessible worldwide.”