As the pace of technology expands at warp speed, 3D printing quickly has come on the scene, set itself up to transform our everyday reality (like the first fully 3D printed building taking shape this year), and has sparked political debate by enabling 3D printing of weapons.
So what comes next?
A fascinating TED lecture below by Skylar Tibbits, an architect, designer and computer scientist who teaches design at MIT’s Department of Architecture, illustrates how adding the fourth dimension of time to current 3D printing methods will enable objects that have been printed in 3 dimensions to self-transform into other objects. It's mindblowing and sure to open up a new level of research and debate, especially as the concept of self-replicating "terminator" robots and nanobots are causing concern as a possible threat to the human race.
Tibbits does hint at this concern over automated machines in his lecture by suggesting that the focus should not be to replace humans, but rather to reduce inefficiencies in manufacturing and production through programmable behavior -- buildings and underground piping that can repair themselves, for example.
The theoretical possibilities go beyond manufacturing and into medicine, though, as Tibbits demonstrates with the polio virus. The implications for DNA technology are staggering, both positive and negative.
If we have learned anything, it is that once technology is unleashed, it is not going to disappear even we should hope that it does. As with most technology, 4D printing could very well have the potential to transform our future in very positive ways, if it is not hoarded by those who have a proven disdain for humanity.
4D printing is in its infancy. The key is to increase our knowledge now of what is possible and share it with others so that we have an informed population ready, willing, and able to participate. By decentralizing science through DIY groups and open source endeavors, we can reduce the ability of a so-called class of scientific "elites" to claim sole legitimacy and power over our inherent right to self-direction.
For more examples of 4D printing in action, visit the TED blog.
For other DIY, open source and hackerspace resources, please visit LocalOrg.
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