DiDIY and ethics

 - The work on ethics in Digital DIY is accessible on our central page on ethics -

What are the ethical issues of Digital DIY? 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 DiDIY 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?