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Ethics of Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY) project at Anatolia College/ACT

Ethics of Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY) project at Anatolia College/ACT

We all use digital systems to produce images, video, music or text ourselves, 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 electronics, printing biological tissue, designing a new DNA, and many more future developments. Enthusiastic ‘Makers’, creative designers and educators develop new tools and new uses every day. A Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY) revolution is on its way.

These DIY devices allow people 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, 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 generally, 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: for example, who is to be held responsible if the use of a digitally made artifact results in harm to someone? Also, how will the spread of DiDIY impact the job market and the modes of production – will its impact be positive or negative overall? And will it pose a threat to copyright and design rights, if it allows people to easily replicate virtually any artefact by 3D scanning and sharing of digital designs?

The research team of Vincent C. Müller and Alexandre Erler at Anatolia College/ACT will work on these ethical issues of DiDIY, as part of the European H2020 project DiDIY – see www.didiy.eu. The project brings together 7 European institutions, from design to business, to research for 30 months with an overall budget of 2,1mil€.

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