By Tristan Miller-Lammert, Trending Writer
We are living in a world that was imagined as science fiction a few decades ago. Video games and movies look like real life, music comes alive in new headphones and speakers, and smartphones give us the power to interact with people all over the world. These technologies are all fun staples of social life.
New interactive tech is coming out, which is having just as big an impact on the day-to-day. Drones and 3-D printers are becoming mainstream. 3-D printing is finding immediate personal use in homes and businesses while drones are being used for matters outside of war.
The most popular 3-D printers work by slowly layering material over and over based on a model in a computer. Others use lasers for shaping material. Already, 3-D printers can print using glucose, wax, and ceramic amongst many other materials to make anything from cubes and triangles to guns. They make it possible for you to make almost anything in your own home, and this is where things get tricky.
3-D printers will make it, “increasingly difficult to stop the distribution of illegal objects”. For example, it is difficult to stop someone from printing a weapon when the model for it can be sent via email or through thingiverse.com, a website where people can share their models and designs open source. Another unique effect of these printers is how they are likely to lower public interaction. Because you can print nearly anything at home, people will go out less to shop, missing out on the, “incidental chats and conversations that are so important in building strong communities”.
With 3-D printers affecting crime and social interaction, drones will be affecting people on a bigger scale in terms of privacy and human rights. Right now, drones are headed towards working in, “commerce, service delivery, humanitarian aid… and human rights monitoring”. This push is seen in the recent FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 which required drones to be safely integrated into U.S. airspace by 2015.
“Drones can reach places and see things cell phones cannot”, meaning that they can monitor human rights violations, such as alerting a government of genocides or abuse. The problem is monitoring against human rights violations in international airspace without actually violating human rights. The same goes for drones used domestically for deliveries. Protecting privacy and freedom are all challenges faced by policymakers trying to integrate this new technology.
However, drones and 3-D printers, becoming more personal and accessible, is another trend in technology. Seeing how they fit into our daily lives, though, is the issue at hand.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 12th print edition.
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