The new digital revolution of do-it-yourself making: Research project on ethical impact at Anatolia College/ACT
We all write text, produce images and video, and play music ourselves on digital systems, but actual physical objects are only made in professional manufacturing – so far. This is changing with new cheap devices that allow Do-It-Yourself printing in 3D, CNC milling, cutting, making your own electronic hardware, printing biological tissue, designing a new DNA, and many more future developments. Enthusiastic ‘Makers’, creative designers and other non-experts push DIY with a digital sharing mindset. A Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY) revolution is on its way.
These DIY devices allow anyone of us to make a virtually endless variety of things, often from their home: some of them innocuous or even beneficial, like customized cases for mobile phones, metal or plastic spare parts, clothing, artwork, or prosthetic limbs, but others dangerous, such as guns or biological weapons. So there is a problem of safety: For example, what remains of gun control if people can 3D print or mill their own guns – some of which might also be undetectable by current security technology? And if people can make their own artefacts at home, how do we uphold standards of quality control? Another issue is responsibility, both moral and legal: who is to be held responsible if the use of a digitally made artifact results in harm to someone? And how do we handle the threat to copyright, trademark and design rights, if digital DIY allows people to easily replicate virtually any artefact by 3D scanning and sharing of digital designs on-line? How will the spread of DiDIY impact the job market, distribution channels and the modes of production – will its impact be positive or negative overall?
The research team of Prof. Vincent C. Müller (www.sophia.de) and Dr. Alexandre Erler at Anatolia College/ACT are writing on characteristic cases of these ethical issues, such as gun control (handguns & drones), human organ printing, synthetic biology and biohacking, employment and customisation as well as education. Their work is part of the European H2020 project "Digital DIY" (www.didiy.eu) which brings together 7 European institutions, from design to business, to research for 30 months with an overall budget of 2,1mil€.
The work on ethics in Digitial DIY is accessible on our central page on ethics.