The Future of 4D Printing

Kevin Samson
Activist Post

As the pace of technology expands at warp speed, 3D printing quickly has come on the scene, set itself up to transform our everyday reality (like the first fully 3D printed building taking shape this year), and has sparked political debate by enabling 3D printing of weapons.      

So what comes next?

A fascinating TED lecture below by Skylar Tibbits, an architect, designer and computer scientist who teaches design at MIT’s Department of Architecture, illustrates how adding the fourth dimension of time to current 3D printing methods will enable objects that have been printed in 3 dimensions to self-transform into other objects. It's mindblowing and sure to open up a new level of research and debate, especially as the concept of self-replicating "terminator" robots and nanobots are causing concern as a possible threat to the human race.

Tibbits does hint at this concern over automated machines in his lecture by suggesting that the focus should not be to replace humans, but rather to reduce inefficiencies in manufacturing and production through programmable behavior — buildings and underground piping that can repair themselves, for example.

The theoretical possibilities go beyond manufacturing and into medicine, though, as Tibbits demonstrates with the polio virus. The implications for DNA technology are staggering, both positive and negative.

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