The Singularity Is Here

Can 3D Printing Rock the Vice Market for Guns, Drugs, and Exotic Species?

DNA laser printer, apex predator optional.
 Can 3D Printing Rock the Vice Market for Guns, Drugs, and Exotic Species?

3D printed gun (Photo: AR15)

Author and entrepreneur Steven Kotler has an interesting piece over at Forbes, wondering about the impact of exponential growth in technology on illicit trading.

Looking at the three largest categories–drugs, exotic species, and arms, in descending order–Mr. Kotler argues that 3D and DNA laser printers could wipe out the “principles of scarcity” that have always defined these markets.

Considering that Mr. Kotler co-wrote the book “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think,” with Singularity University and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis, his take on technology’s ability to actually deliver is predictably bullish. But there are already real-world signs of this trend. Last week, for instance, we told you about reports of a 3D-printed .22 pistol on the gun forum AR15 where a user claimed to have successfully fired 200 rounds.

How does Mr. Kotler see this disruption going down in other areas?

In the terms of illegal drugs, he points to Glasgow University chemist Lee Cronin, who recently found a way “to turn a 3D printer into a universal chemistry set.”

But, of course, just like with guns, this system too will be hacked. When actually built, Cronin’s “chemputer” will make illicit drugs available to everyone. Theoretically, in whatever quantity and quality they might want.

A little high-grade ecstasy for the Friday night dorm party? Enough pharmaceutically pure cocaine to fill a dumptruck? Want to dose Moscow’s water supply with LSD? Simply hit print.

With exotic species, Mr. Kotler once again glosses over the actual science and logistics in favor of a transcendant/terrifying prediction about another new invention, the DNA laser printer.

Right now, this printer allows us to create things the size of viruses. Pretty soon we’ll be moving on to bigger genomes. Eventually, this is going to lead us to printing whole organisms—including exotic species.

This the way the world ends, not with unfriendly AI, but synthetic ligers?

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com

Comments

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