Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 21:10 | SYDNEY
Thursday 07 Oct 2021 | 21:10 | SYDNEY

The replicator: Life imitates Star Trek


Sam Roggeveen


13 January 2012 12:59

Three-dimensional printers are now affordable enough for home use. No, they can't make food like Star Trek's replicators, but they can make relatively complex solid objects (though note that the makers of the device advertised above have appropriated the term 'replicator'; it wouldn't be the first time inventors have been inspired by science fiction).

Of course, someone needs to design those objects first, and one innovation I was unaware of, explained in the video, is that the design process can be crowdsourced and then shared among users.

Just before Christmas I wrote a post referring to the 'super-empowered individual', and this is the sort of technology I had in mind as providing that power. Currently, manufacturing requires teams of designers and engineers in labs and office blocks, and when they have finished, their ideas get made into goods in large factories with long assembly lines. But devices like this are moving that entire process onto the web and into the home. I don't think we yet have any idea of the disruptive capacity of such technology, for good and ill.

UPDATE: Also on the theme of cheap, radically disruptive technology: the $1000 genome. (H/t 3QD.)

(Video courtesy of The Browser.)