This is only the latest example of “augmented reality,” in which the material world is somehow enhanced by the digital. The implications of a 3D printed handgun are staggering enough before considering the myriad ways in which the digital continues to colonize the material. What is the impact on our legal and other societal systems, in which we respect the free flow of information, but there is increasing impetus to control firearms?
People have often seen cyberspace as separate from the physical world. But technologies like the augmented reality of Google Glass or the desktop manufacturing of three-dimensional printing are blurring that line. As the digital and physical converge, the results will have “a transformational effect on the nature of human experience,” says Matt Ratto, a critical-information scholar at the University of Toronto.For starters, people will be able to print gun parts.Mr. Ratto drove home that reality recently in an academic project that has provoked widespread discussion across Canada. Using the 3-D printer in his critical-making lab, housed at the university’s Robarts Library, he printed a nonworking handgun. It’s called the “Liberator.” Mr. Ratto and his colleagues assembled it from plastic components that were produced from a blueprint downloaded off the Web.
via The Professor Who Printed a Handgun – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images
Given the detailed description of the event, I don’t think this was a gathering of mere Luddites. I’m glad to see The Chronicle publish this report, given that it also came out this week with a special supplement on “digital learning” that was mostly complementary. Technology is full of wonder, but what are its implications not only for academic freedom, but more importantly for learning.
Companies, colleges, and columnists gush about the utopian possibilities of technology. But digital life has a bleaker side, too. Over the weekend, a cross-disciplinary group of scholars convened here to focus attention on the lesser-noticed consequences of innovation.
Surveillance. Racism. Drones. Those were some of the issues discussed at the conference, which was called “The Dark Side of the Digital” and hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee‘s Center for 21st Century Studies. (One speaker even flew a small drone as a visual aid; it hit the classroom ceiling and crashed.)
After a week of faculty backlash against online education, including the refusal of San Jose State University professors to teach a Harvard philosophy course offered via edX, the down sides of digital learning emerged as a hot topic, too.
via Scholars Sound the Alert From the ‘Dark Side’ of Tech Innovation – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.