November 26, 2012
We have entered the second generation of 'machine generation' with 3D printers. Till now we used to have machines assembling machines from parts. For example, a robot in a car factory building a car. [UPDATE: link added]
Now we can 'print' cars, or their parts thereof using a 3D printer.
As with every technology, as 3D printers get smaller, more efficient, faster and cheaper, I can almost visualize future machines having their own 'healing units' which can create and replace a part that has been worn out. Take it a step further and you can have fully self-spawning machines, not quite unlike living beings today. And with huge acceleration provided to machine learning thanks to big data and miniaturized supercomputing, those machines could take decisions, and think for themselves.
I give it 20 years to see ourselves living in a world filled with a completely different generation of machines, which are very close to humans in capabilities. I was reading the other day that in 20 years machines will know how to be funny, creative and, wait for it, sexy. The processing capabilities of your cell phone today, which is more powerful than yesteryears' supercomputer, could be packed into something the size of a blood cell.
On one hand we have the possibility of killing cancer cells by injecting intravenous supercomputers into the blood and keep a constant tab on our health. On the other, I wonder if it would be possible to monitor (and control?) people's behavior using similar micro-gadgets. An extended version of The Manchurian Candidate could perhaps become reality?
I wonder if someday machines will be 'employing' humans and patenting (imprisoning?) the intelligent ones. The possibilities, as they say, are endless. Would you like to be harvested for energy?
PS: Did you 'hear'? A 3D printed record has been created in the lab.
UPDATE: It has been 3 months since I wrote this post and we already have a 3D printed car and ear. Yes, the organ. I'm not saying I saw it coming, but I remember people saying that I was fantasizing and it was too far in the future to think about. Maybe not that far, after all. I'm excited!