Market Insights

Is 3D printing a threat in an increasingly dangerous world?

This Tuesday at the Council debate on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon fearfully warned against the potential dangers of emerging technologies in the hands of the world’s most threatening criminals.

Ban Ki-Moon_3d printing threat
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (courtesy of JC McIlwaine for the UN)

If you immediately pictured The Simpson’s newspaper clipping of “Old Man Yells at Cloud,” after reading that, don’t role your eyes at the luddites just yet. A the debate, Ki-Moon raised some very important concerns about global safety and security, a concrete threat associated with the continuously growing digital world. As is the case with any kind of emerging technology, 3D printing technology – especially because of its wide-ranging open source availability – can easily fall into the hands of people with less-than-virtuous intentions. According to Ki-Moon:

“Information and communication technologies, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing and synthetic biology have the potential of massive destruction. The nexus between these emerging technologies and WMD needs close examination and action. People now live a significant portion of their lives online. They must be protected from online attacks, just as effectively as they are protected from physical attacks. We should not be just one click of the mouse away from a cyber Chernobyl.” 

Watch the video below to see a segment of the conference in which Ki-Moon discussed “the existence of a more fluid and dangerous global strategic context for disarmament.”

Obviously, we may not have to worry about a cyber Chernobyl any time in the near future, as most seasoned netizens know how to steer clear of suspicious internet activity, but in his address, Ki-Moon made a point to stress the importance of maintaining “the peaceful use of cyberspace and, particularly, the intersection between cyberspace and critical infrastructure.”

We’ve already seen the very dangerous implications of 3D printed guns, which has caused the U.S. state of California to pass strict legislation in recent months, and heightened TSA security. The threat, therefore, has already manifested into everyday life; the next step is to figure how to counteract malicious use without eliminating the user-friendly, open-source nature of one of the most revolutionary technologies in our possession.

Featured Image courtesy of Rick Bajornas for the UN.