The Dim-Post

April 12, 2013

Whoah! What if all of existence is, like, one massive 3-D printout?

Filed under: general idiocy,technology — danylmc @ 9:46 am

Via Radio New Zealand:

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson says he is extremely worried about what 3D printers will do to border security.

Mr Williamson says the printers are actually manufacturers of products and 3D computer files can be emailed or downloaded from the internet.

He says household printers will soon be able to produce drugs and weapons, and the country’s borders are extremely vulnerable.

“If people could print off … sheets of Ecstasy tablets at the party they’re at at that time that just completely takes away our border protection role in its known sense.”

Mr Williamson says the printers will become as common as PCs and he has asked his officials to think hard about how to keep up with this kind of technology.

I’d have liked to have overheard the conversation between Williamson’s officials in the taxi-ride back to their Ministry.

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24 Comments »

  1. Wow seems to me that Williamson may have taken an Ecstasy tab before saying this, and not one of those 3D printer jobbies either …

    Comment by mickysavage — April 12, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  2. Don’t panic, most politicians are 2 dimensional…

    3D printing is going to lead to some massive intellectual property rights issues, that’s for sure. But you could only “print off sheets of ecstacy tablets” if you have all the necessary reagents and chemicals at the party already…he makes it sound like a “matter transporter”.

    Comment by PPCM — April 12, 2013 @ 10:18 am

  3. Can’t you get plans for nuclear warheads on this Internet thing? I for one am deeply concerned – and alarmed that only the Minister seems to be taking these threats seriously.

    Comment by Nathaniel — April 12, 2013 @ 10:35 am

  4. What he should be really worried about is guns that fire Ecstasy tablets. Everyone knows they’re the next big thing – just make sure you don’t cheap out and get the printer that comes with the full “ink” cartridges and not one of those ones that comes with only enough “ink” to print a couple aspirin and a slingshot.

    Comment by leftyliberal — April 12, 2013 @ 10:49 am

  5. Didn’t Maurice try heat his dinner up in Voyager’s replicator? Now THAT was embarassing.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 12, 2013 @ 11:16 am

  6. There’s been a proof-of-concept gun pattern out there from what I hear, but the ecstacy claim’s confusing. I did a quick google and I wonder if he was reading something like this random article: IN THE FUTURE, YOUR DRUG DEALER WILL BE A PRINTER.

    From that article/interview with Professor Lee Cronin at Glasgow University (apologies if I fail with the formatting below):

    “I Skyped with Professor Lee Cronin – a scientist behind the technology at Glasgow University – to find out a bit more about this insane-sounding drug-printer.

    VICE: Hi Lee. So firstly, can you briefly describe how the 3D printing of a drug works. You don’t just print out a little pill, do you?

    Lee Cronin: OK, I will try. Imagine the following: 1) you go to an online drug store; 2) you decide what you need (with GP prescription); 3) you buy both the blueprint and the ink; 4) the “ink” comes pre-sealed in a safe cartridge; 5) you print the drug with the special ink and the software; 6) you take the drug.”

    VICE: Sure, people illegally manufacture drugs now, but would it make it easier, more accessible, because you no longer need a lab?

    Lee Cronin: No, that’s not right, since you just link the ink production and software and encrypt them. What you’re talking about is immensely complex in terms of ethics, regulation and personal freedom. But we could make sure the ink is so simple that any attempt to split it open and do things would not work. The amount made and the way it would be deployed would be on such a small scale that it would not be usable for other things.”

    So it doesn’t exactly sound as if anyone’s suggested this could be done without also having the right ingredients to begin with……

    Comment by MikeM — April 12, 2013 @ 11:26 am

  7. Danyl, in all seriousness, isn’t he referring to Prof Cronin’s work at Glasgow University? Are you saying that what he is researching will never be truly viable?

    Comment by Grant — April 12, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  8. I am looking forward to when I can print off my own 3D Maurice Williamson.

    It’ll be just like the real one, only smarter.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 12, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  9. Couldn’t they just fax the sheets of ecstasy tabs? I’m uncomfortable with new technology.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 12, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  10. Danyl, in all seriousness, isn’t he referring to Prof Cronin’s work at Glasgow University? Are you saying that what he is researching will never be truly viable?

    It will certainly become technically viable. However, obtaining the necessary ‘ink’ for printing out drugs lends itself to regulation in exactly the same way as existing delivery methods do, so he’s in a flap about nothing and we’re entitled to take some cheap shots.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 12, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

  11. Companies like Intellectual Ventures Inc in the states are already exploring 3d food printing – their goal is to be able to produce a food printer that can be air-dropped into disaster zones and provide an efficient means of delivering vital supplies to victims. It’s doesn’t take a massize stretch of imagination to consider the possibility of illegal drug printing with that kind of technology.

    Personally, I’m more interested in the legal implications of domestic 3d printing of, say, car parts. Where does the blame lie if you print off a replacement brake cable component, and then that part you made yourself becomes responsible for a failure that causes an accident?

    Comment by Phil — April 12, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  12. “…Where does the blame lie if you print off a replacement brake cable component, and then that part you made yourself becomes responsible for a failure that causes an accident..?”

    Depends. If you got it from iTunes then I guess you are an Apple fan boy and you will have also printed the iCar and won’t care if you are covered or not, since you know Apple products never break. If you got it from a dodgy torrent site and have an 1998 Familia, then you are screwed.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 12, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

  13. their goal is to be able to produce a food printer that can be air-dropped into disaster zones and provide an efficient means of delivering vital supplies to victims.

    Why not just airpdrop MRE/longlife food?
    Seems like a solution without a problem.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 12, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

  14. Maybe he’s just worried about the impact on the ecstasy industry and “young kiwi social life” if people start printing ecstasy-pill-shaped objects made from generic thermoplastic polymers?

    Comment by kim — April 12, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

  15. i always find ecstasy ink blocks my printer’s nozzles. Lsd ink otoh gives great colour saturation

    Comment by insider — April 12, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  16. a food printer that can be air-dropped into disaster zones

    Fax someone a pizza and they’ll eat for a day. But fax them one of those printers…

    Comment by Joe W — April 12, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  17. Good lord he’s right – the day that people are able to “fabricate” or “manufacture” things once they’re given the instructions and source the necessary ingredients will be a terrible day for the 18th century…

    Comment by garethw — April 12, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  18. “a food printer that can be air-dropped into disaster zones”

    More likely a food printer sponsored by McDonalds that will print out Big Mac Combos in equatorial Africa…

    …or a Chicken McNugget Ecstasy Combo…A Very Very Happy Meal.

    Comment by PPCM — April 12, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  19. Perhaps Wllismson has a lively imagination but that might not be such a bad thing the way technology is changing. Nano tech, 3d printing, they’ve come a long long way in just the past few years.

    It might pay to imagine what might become possible, the impossible these having a lessee shelf life.

    Comment by NeilM — April 12, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

  20. The basic principle he’s talking about is a fundamental change in manufacturing equivalent to peer to peer mp3 downloads. See, that never caused any trouble.

    Comment by NeilM — April 12, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

  21. He still sounded like a dick in this case.

    OTOH Williamson is and has always been a proactive and reasonably knowledgeable voice in the IT space as opposed to Clare Curran who is an idiot.

    Comment by Tim — April 12, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

  22. OTOH Williamson is and has always been a proactive and reasonably knowledgeable voice in the IT space as opposed to Clare Curran who is an idiot.

    Not sure about the former, but dead right on the latter.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 12, 2013 @ 6:52 pm

  23. If I hadn’t heard this on the news I’d have sworn this was satire more ludicrous than Shearer’s missing wallet.

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — April 12, 2013 @ 7:21 pm


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