Guns, Limbs, and Toys: What Future for 3D Printing?
51 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 14, 2016
We stand on the cusp of the next great industrial revolution thanks to technological innovations and developments that could significantly enhance the welfare of people across the world. This article will focus on how one of those modern inventions -- 3D printing -- could offer the public significant benefits, but not without some serious economic, social, and legal disruptions along the way. We begin by explaining what 3D printing is and how it works. We also discuss specific applications of this technology and its potential benefits. We then turn to the policy frameworks that could govern 3D printing technologies and itemize a few of the major public policy issues that are either already being discussed, or which could become pertinent in the future. We offer some general guidance for policymakers who might be pondering the governance of 3D printing technologies going forward. Contra to the many other articles and position papers that have already been penned about 3D printing policy, which only selectively defend permissionless innovation in narrow circumstances, we endorse it as the default rule across all categories of 3D printing applications.
Keywords: 3D printing, innovation, precautionary principle, permissionless innovation
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