Tuesday, October 09, 2012


I know that there have been science-fiction visionaries (Jules Verne, Philip K. Dick) who have anticipated the future. Sometimes, though, instead of us seeing the future, the future sees us.

Take a look:
A number of people have already made gun parts using 3-D printers. And yes, the guns with these parts have successfully fired bullets. Cody Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, is in the process of building a completely functional printed gun. “We hope to have this fully tested and put the files online in the next couple of months,” said Mr. Wilson, who runs a Web site called Defense Distributed.

He calls the gun the Wiki Weapon. In a video explaining the project’s goals, he describes the Wiki Weapon as the world’s first “3-D printable personal defense system.”

Aside: America has some great qualities, but we also have some staggering flaws. In particular, any time a new technology is invented, our number one priority seems to be finding ways to kill people with it.

Did anyone anticipate this? Could even Philip K. Dick, in the depths of his brilliant madness, foresee this? Could he have anticipated that 3-D printers might one day print houses? Could anyone?

This is one of the first times in my life that the future has totally outstripped my ability to imagine the future. Printing houses?

Back to printing guns. Our gun laws are pathetic, really, when it comes to being able to purchase guns, but there are some very strict laws regarding the manufacture of guns, enabling law enforcement to effectively trace and identify weapons.

Imagine this, though. Imagine a criminal printing a fully functioning gun made out of plastic. He uses it to commit a crime--let's say he murders someone--and as he's driving off, he turns on a microwave oven that he has in his Scooby Doo van and melts the gun. Then he pours out the melted plastic as he drives down the road.

No possible identification through ballistics. No way to trace the weapon, because the weapon isn't a weapon, it's just a molded form, then melted as if it never existed.

I love the idea of 3-D printers--they absolutely fascinate me--but this is a future I'm having a hard time embracing.

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