Pop star, reality TV judge, and self-proclaimed voice of the future will.i.am has called for there to be a clear ethical framework within the various industries that have emerged since the advent of 3D printing. “If you can print a liver or a kidney, God dang it, you’re going to be able to print a whole freaking person,” he said this week. No, seriously, he said that.
And because naturally no discussion of 21st century innovation would be complete without referencing the Old Testament, he continued: “Now we’re getting into a whole new territory. Moses comes down with the 10 commandments and says ‘Thou shalt not…’ He didn’t say shit about 3D printing.”
Mr i.am is right in at least one respect; it is certainly possible to print realistic duplicates of human organs. Fasotec’s “Biotexture Wet Model” will be available as early as April, and will enable surgeons to practice their techniques on models much closer in texture and detail to the real thing. But producing something that will be useable in a transplant context? We’re not there just yet.
Will’s sensational recent comments have overshadowed the thing he was actually supposed to be talking about; Ekocycle, a brand he created in partnership with Coca-Cola, with the ultimate aim of making sustainable living “cool”. The new collection comprises clothing, accessories, and even bicycles, all of which are 3D printed using filament made from recycled PET plastic.
In addition to human organs, will.i.am also believes that 3D printing will eventually evolve to the point where we can replicate meat and leather products, and even “dematerialise” people, Star Trek-style. That horror show of a future remains safely out of sight for now, though. In the meantime, his Ekocycle range can be found in Harrods, London’s most exclusive department store. This might help brands come round to the idea of sustainability having the cool factor, but it’s not exactly accessible to a broader market. Still, it’s a nice, visible place to start. And if there’s one thing will.i.am knows, it’s how to get our attention.