A simple explanation of Digital Do-It-Yourself and its ethical problems
I recently came across something which is, I believe, a good starting point to speculate (and, of course, research!) about some very specific impacts of Digital DIY (DiDIY) on "consumer rights", and on the retail and manufacturing industries in general.
When the spread of cheap micro-computers made computing accessible to a wide range of people, there was an outpouring of creativity - no longer did one have to belong to one of the 'priesthoods' that cared for the big and expensive lumps of computing power. For example, the era of a new form of mass entertainment - the computer game - arrived, powered (at least initially) by creative individuals. However creativity is notoriously unbounded, and it also ushered in the era of computer viruses.
Digital Do It Yourself (DiDIY) techniques allow people, not necessarily specialised in the art, to reproduce complex objects with relative ease and low cost. DigitalDIY brings together the physical and the digital realm such as in 3D printers and scanners or networks of sensors and actuators (the "Internet of Things", IoT). This provides tremendous benefits for society at large in various ways:
Technology companies are taking away the right of the people buying their products and convert them into simple consumers who don't really own the products they buy.
"It’s official: John Deere and General Motors want to eviscerate the notion of ownership. Sure, we pay for their vehicles. But we don’t own them. Not according to their corporate lawyers, anyway.
With digital DIY you can now make your own gun at home, and nobody can control you. Since gun control relies on the ability of the state to enforce it, it is failing now. The digital DIY of weapons will be a real war of all against all.
Low bandwidth technologies favoured sparse, formal representations of the real world: from musical notation, to line plans of buildings. With increasing storage and computing power, these will be supplanted by more detailed, "descriptive", representations that are beyond human power to directly produce and understand.