Former Black Eyed Peas front-man Will.i.am may not be the first innovator who’d spring to mind in relation to scientific advancement, but naysayers doubting his techie gravitas are so 2000 and late: the music producer’s launch of sustainable product collection Ekocycle, along with his role as Chief Creative Officer of company 3D systems have given him a voice in the ethical debate surrounding 3D printing and its future implications for the human race.
Ekocycle, a joint venture with Coca Cola which was recently launched in London, creates products made out of recycled materials – from bikes to beanie hats – along with 3d printing filament created from used plastic bottles. Their aim is to move 3D printing beyond the realm of hardcore tech enthusiasts and ‘make sustainable living cool’ with their simple to operate 3D printer, the Ekocycle cube, curbing waste and keeping up with the appetite with which we consume and dispose of things, which ‘devalues both resources and human capital’.
A human touch
3D printing is already making inroads in the world of human biology, with 3D printed organs looking a likely medical science jump in the next few years, but Will’s projections for the future suggest we need to rethink our ethical codes to accommodate the technology’s new scope for humanity: “if you can print a liver or a kidney, god dang it, you’re going to be able to print a whole freaking person”. Not necessarily comfortable with his image of a 3D future, he told Dezeen Magazine “I’m not saying I agree with it, I’m just saying what’s fact based on plausible growth in technology”.
Calling for a new level of moral responsibility, Will.i.am invoked the technology sector’s most revered figure: “Moses comes down with the 10 commandments and says ‘thou shalt not’. He didn’t say shit about 3D printing.”
BBC1’s The Voice judge voices the magnitude of the 3D printing revolution we’re about to witness, describing a world in which a machine can print your genome with proteins specific to your biological make-up. Will.i.am sees a future where 3D printers will change how we make things, how we fix and heal things, and how the landscape of how we shape humanity shifts – literally; and although exciting, this comes with real responsibility.