3D Printed Jesus

3d printed jesusAs followers of my facebook page are no doubt aware, I am fascinated by the possibilities of 3D printing, both for good and for not so good.

Even though the 3D printing industry is only in its infancy, its already showing potential to make emergency housing cheaper and to make gun control well nigh impossible. Its one of those technologies that comes along every now and again that has truly disruptive potential. Not just technologically, but also socially.

And therefore, religiously.

Remember that one of the seven dimensions of religion is the material dimention. If manufacturing is made as personal as publishing, think of the implications for art, music, architecture and artifact customization. Think also of the ethical dimension. If you think copyright is threatened by music and movie digitization, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Then of course there’s the von Neuman possibilities: 3D printing 3D printers printing 3D printers. Can it be used to help the poor? Or will it undermine minority cultures even further? Or could it do both simultaneously? What will it mean for western individualism and consumerism? Will it undermine it or further fuel it?

I’m not even sure I have all the right questions yet.

I see opportunities, but also threats. I see potential for creative Christians to explore new territories, but I also see potential for western Christianity to become even more marginalised if it does not rise to the challenge of the coming technological and cultural revolutions.

5 Comments

  1. I heard some futurist lectures on Radio National while I was driving home from work tonight and one of them said that 3D printing was going to be a more revolutionary invention than the internet!
    I also heard one of them talk about the demise of the humanities faculties in tertiary education institutions because people were choosing business, commerce or science degrees in ever increasing numbers. However, very interestingly, he concluded that the cultural divide between science and the humanities would have to be bridged and new cooperative relationships forged because one can’t do without the other. He drew the example of Apple, and a comment by the late Steve Jobs who intimated that the ability to engineer and produce technological tools and gadgets was prolific worldwide, but that the ability to create markets for them required the ability to “tell stories”, so students of the humanities, were just as valuable, if not more, to the commercial equation.
    So, I guess the 3D printing revolution will spawn its own moral dilemmas and finance/marketing conundrums…
    HOWEVER, does everything (including the arts) always have to be reduced to utilitarian value and commodification purposes?!!! I’m a bit sick of that…

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  2. It has to be reduced to utilitarian value where someone is asking for funding, but there's no reason that a gift economy can't exist alongside an exchange economy. After all, gifting is what my blogging is based on.

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