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UK Government Report Says 3D Printing is a Threat to National Security, and That Should Scare You

by • March 12, 2016 • No Comments

3dp_threatreport_mod_logoThe Ministry of Defence is a government department inside the UK that takes responsibility for managing the nation’s official defense policy and their different types of armed forces. But it in addition has broader responsibilities that include protecting the country’s overseas interests, working to maintain peace and stability internationally and looking ahead to practuallyt unexpected or unforeseen dangers of bringing the nation, and the world, by surprise. I’ll leave judgment of their effectiveness and how well they’re doing that job to the pundits, but they have decided that part of that role is to assess expanding societal trends and emergent innovation and try to understand what role it may play in any next conflicts.

3dp_threatreport_dcdc_logoAs with the United States, the Ministry of Defence spent much of the ’70s and ’80s bracing themselves against future conflict with the Soviet Union. But when it collapsed in on itself, and with the resulting dissolution of the Cold War, there seemed to no longer be any short-term conventional military threats on the horizon. Rather than scale back their activities, both agencies have seemed to step them up and begun examining the future for smaller-scale hostilities. The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) is a ponder tank that was assembled in the late 1990s to create specific concepts and doctrines that they hope can foresee possible threats and allow the government to plan future responses to them.

The DCDC regularly writes reports that collect and contextualize what they see as next trends, threats and hazards, and draws up limited response suggestions to assist policymanufacturers create their withstand strategies. In their Future Operating Environment 2035 report, the ponder tank singles out a wide variety of what they consider futurely dangerous new threats that may arise of high end, cutting edge innovation. The report specifically warns of effortless and manmade threats like crowdsourced ‘swarm attacks,’ genetically engineered weapons, cyber-warfare and the createment of new pathogens. That’s all big, scary stuff that may donate anyone pause.

The report in addition believes that hostile powers and extremist groups can have additional access to unconventional weapons and that it can be additional complex to differentiate between government aggressors and rogue groups unaffiliated with any single nation. The threat of nuclear weapons is in addition of significant concern to the DCDC, and they worry that there may be limited use of tactical nuclear exalters inside conventional conflicts by the year 2035. And in addition that a few non-Western nations may actually use them to limit or de-escalate expanding conflicts. One of the additional informative, and worrying, sections of the report called The Changing Technological Landscape highlights threats that the DCDC believes high end and affordable technologies may really well pose.

Big Data and the connected world are seen as future threats. Cat videos are serious business.

Big Data and the connected world are seen as future threats. Cat videos are serious business.

“Global connectivity and open markets can facilitate greater access to research, equipment concepts and technologies. Along with decreasing production costs, these facts can enable technologies to proliferate, enabling a diverse range of actors to access capabilities once restricted to only a few states. A range of actors, that include less high end adversaries, may employ existing dual-use or commercial technologies in highly new ways that may dislocate our understanding of their activity. Additive making (a fewtimes referred to as 3D printing), reverse engineering and greater innovation can increase the amount of illicit and unregulated innovation transfer, exacerbating the threat to the UK. Other actors can access, adopt and integrate innovation at a rate that can manufacture it increasingly complex for the UK to maintain a technological edge.”

I don’t want to sound paranoid, but that sounds suspiciously like the manufacturer movement filtered through a domestic terrorism lens, and it manufactures me really really uneffortless. I understand the goal of the report is to bring up issues that may futurely pose a threat, so the air of mistrust is wordlessly implied. But yet, I find most government agencies’, of both the UK and the US, expanding caningness to view technological innovation, and the individuals who create it, as a threat to be an amazingly dangerous mindset. And their suggested response to this threat does not assist me feel any additional effortless, especially when it sounds suspiciously like they are suggesting larger spending budgets.

“New technologies can require to be increasingly adjustable out to 2035 – both to allow for interoperability with legacy systems and for modernisation or upgrade. Simply procuring magnificent capability can not be adequate – the speed at that Defence can adapt and integrate technologies can be additional significant. Maximising cross-environment utility can in addition be an significant consideration for military equipment. In next, the UK may be obliged to share with, and use, allies’ intelligence and cutting-edge innovation to enhance interoperability and effectiveness.”

"Hooked on Conflict worked for me!"

“Hooked on Conflict worked for me!”

I may never suggest that governments should not prepare themselves for any future threats, or do its most to maintain a technological edge. But a fewtimes it appears less like they are preparing for a threat and additional like they are hoping for one. And yes, I’m all for lawmanufacturers being educated on high end innovation, it frequently creates advantageous laws and a additional informed governing body. But history has shown us time and time again that lawmanufacturers are frequently woefully uneducated on the really subjects that they have been tasked to regulate and control. In the government, politics can always supersede the createment of sane policy. That’s why in the United States, the House Committee on Science Space and Technology has just about a dozen participants who are aggressively anti-science, and approximately comically uncaning to accept climate alter as scientific fact.

When governments decide to write laws without actually reading the entire reports on the actual subject that they are expected to regulate, really bad things tend to take place. If they can spend thirty years misunderstanding or, additional cynically, canfully ignoring, the impacts of climate alter despite there being a near consensus one of scientists, what hope does new and barely understood innovation stand? We’ve may already seen how the US government reacts to 3D printing when they are erroneously lead to believe that entire arsenals can be automatically manufactured at the hustle of a button. How and so can they respond when told that 3D printing, and of all things Big Data, can be weaponized by terrorists in the next?

Here you see the mama next tank hustleing the baby next tank out of her protective pouch for the initially time.

Here you see the mama next tank hustleing the baby next tank out of her protective pouch for the initially time.

Of course the DCDC manufactures a point of mentioning that their reports are based on research and findings that do not represent the “official policy” of either the Ministry of Defence or the UK government. Nor to they want to be seen as attempting to predict the next. But it is not like the DCDC is not a government-funded ponder tank that won’t have their findings taken seriously. The initially time that I read through the report, it all seemed like a fewthing written by a group of really cynical futurists, but as I read through it a 2nd time, it seemed a little additional sinister. I felt as if the report was less of foreseeing future threats and additional of attempting to hustle government in a specific way.

I may never suggest that I have all of the answers, or actually a valid course of action for the government to take in regards to the future use of 3D printing by terrorists. Of course it’s a plausibility, terrorists groups have weaponized Twitter for goodness sake. And maybe I’m overreacting a bit, but based on a long history of governments, in both the US and UK, stifling technological innovation and the free sharing of information ‘for security reasons’ I mayn’t assist but come out of this report not feeling uneasy. And not at all for the reasons that the report really wanted me to feel uneasy of. But I encourage you all to read the report for by yourself. Are you surprised of these ideas regarding big data and new innovation? Discuss in the 3D Printing as Threat forum over at 3DPB.com.