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06:52 pm: So, there was an article going around about the possibility for 3D printing to make easy-synthesis kits for various chemicals - they have in mind pharmaceuticals and detergents. The printer can even be coaxed to spit out the feedstock itself. This will probably happen, although I don't know about their timeframe. The New Scientist article on the topic notes the applicability to illegal drugs. I quote:


Potential health dangers from allowing people to print their own legal or illegal drugs would be minimised, says [Lee] Cronin [of the University of Glasgow], as his team would only write software for specific end products that would be difficult to modify into making other reactions. "We would have pre-evaluated the reactions in the lab so no one would be allowed to hack."


Yes. Really.

Any attempt at stopping this is utterly doomed. The moment you put the general-purpose hardware in millions of people's houses, you lose control of the ability to restrict what they do with it. Sorry. It will get hacked, and it will be no more possible to stop them from printing illegal drugs than it will to stop a computer playing a pirated movie.

And if you think the attack and attempt to roll-back general-purpose computing from the entertainment industry is savage enough, then just you wait until the War-on-Drugs lot decide that general purpose computing hardware that can be used to drive a fab is drugs synthesis equipment. Ouch.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:purplecthulhu
Date:April 22nd, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
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And it won't just be illegal drugs...

You could equally print explosives and poisons.

Think a machine set up to start printing dimethyl mercury in a room in a skyscraper with a window open to allow it's product to vent into the air.

DMM is not only hugely neurotoxic, it is persistent.

If you think the war on drugs response to this is going to be bad, wait until the DHS and antiterror crowd hear about it!

ETA: See Bruce Stirling's Holy Fire for his take on this kind of thing.

Edited at 2012-04-22 07:25 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:April 22nd, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
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I hadn't even thought of that.

Brings a whole new meaning to malware.
[User Picture]
From:purplecthulhu
Date:April 22nd, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
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I spend too much time talking to Stross :-)

And as for malware...

When every home has one of these, you could be assassinated by email.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:April 22nd, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC)
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Clearly. :-)

That's what I was thinking! There becomes a market for a toxin-scanner. You wouldn't allow fab instructions from outside to run on your box without proving what it could do - it would have to be a format that's really easy to validate that isn't doing any naughty stuff, and then checked against a trusted chemistry db.

And it would have to be really sneaky about it - imagine something that looked plausibly like the fab for one chemical might actually break down in actual use due to one bit getting hot and them causing another bit that ought to stay cool to deform and etc etc. So you end up needing a full physics+chemistry simulator in a VM? And there'll be a constant arms race.

(I can't for the life of me remember how much of this Rule 34 points out).
[User Picture]
From:pjc50
Date:April 22nd, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
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Arguably this is already the situation in the US with crystal meth; pseudoephedrine has become a restricted substance because it's precursor to meth.

But the thing is, I'm not sure what this technology enables you to do that you can't do with a set of lab glassware. People can already make explosives or meth or toxins at home. Check the first hit for "dimethyl mercury synthesis", for example.
[User Picture]
From:abigailb
Date:April 22nd, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
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Sure, but it dramatically reduces the effort required! I certainly make a lot more bread in my breadmaker than I ever did manually, for example. (If it got to the point where I could just keep ingredient bins in the breadmaker fed and have it do the measuring itself - quite possible - I reckon I'd use it even more).
[User Picture]
From:fluffymark
Date:April 23rd, 2012 08:14 am (UTC)
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Breadmakers are too much effort. Just get a 3D printer to print bread!
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