[extropy-chat] Rapid prototyping makes police state more likely

Jay Dugger jay.dugger at gmail.com
Mon Sep 25 14:36:57 UTC 2006

Monday, 25 September 2006

John Heritage wrote:

"In fact, there's a guy in the US who was in the process of
building his own cruise missle [sic] from off-the-shelf parts to
demonstrate that
a terrorist "could do it" - before he was stopped by the government I

You think of Bruce Simpson, who did this in New Zealand.


> Ja, but of course this is not exactly comparable.  There would be no point
> in making guns in your basement when you can buy them cheaply at the local
> sporting goods store.  If one needs an automatic, they can be created easily
> (even if illegally) from existing hardware and internet-available
> modification devices, along with the instructions on how to do it.

So if you can't economically make a firearm with rapid prototyping,
how could one economically make cameras, diseases, or aircraft with
rapid prototyping? Why not just buy them instead? You can buy
miniature surveillance gear and personal aircraft for cash today.
Diseases and the like, well...let's hope not.

I suspect economies of scale, specialized equipment, and professional
logisitics, finance, and design will trump amateurs in forseeable ways
for a long time yet.

Common criminals probably won't prove likely to take the time to build
a firearm from their rapid prototyper. If he or she (probably he) had
that much skill and concentration, I doubt he or she (probably he)
would end up a criminal. I am not a criminiologist.

> Humanity is facing an entirely new threat with the rapid prototyping.

I agree, but not because I expect to see backyard cruise missiles or
firearms or armored fighting vehicles. I don't even expect to see
easily forseeable things such as souped-up remote controlled cars or
boats with explosives, or high-power model rockets with phosgene
warheads, or remote controlled planes dusting crops with E. Coli or
herbicide or plant diseases. Rapid prototyping might make possible
purely novel and unexpected abilites, threats and benefits both.
Imagine something like the disruptive effects of Napster, but based on
rapid prototyping instead of rapid file transfer. Even that is
probably too predictable. What really surprising positive and negative
effects await? Damon Knight's "A for Anything" offers some ideas, but
I don't think it helps much.

Jay Dugger
YouTube inivitation bearing my name? I apologize.

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