When I was a teenager, I read science fiction books by Harry Harrison about a thief-with-a-conscience called The Stainless Steel Rat.
Among the science fiction predictions embodied in the book were that the Stainless Steel Rat would speak the universal language of Esperanto (that didn’t work out so well) and that he would be able to get whatever equipment he wanted, whenever he wanted by using a gizmo that would create it from sand, rocks and other waste material in his vicinity.
A US firm plans to start enabling the manufacture of weapons, including AK47s, by distributing the schematics for free on the web and allowing people to manufacture their own weapons using 3D printers.
The business expects to get authorisation from the US government before the end of the year.
I was aware of this organisation but have not yet dug into the details. However, this report from the Guardian is fascinating. Most importantly, Distributed Defense is sharing across the web manufacturing schematics that many would like to have tightly controlled, and those plans would enable people to print weapons in areas where access to firearms is tightly controlled.
One of the key ideas behind The Curve is that the issues of how to make money in a digital age are not limited to the entertainment industries.
As we move towards a world where 3D printing becomes a reality, the economics of pirating physical goods change. We are a long way from 3D printers being great quality and cheap enough to be in every home, but the technology is improving every year, the price is falling every year and it is definitely coming.