Remember all that noise about 3D-printed guns? And then the subsequent panicked government attempts to censor and regulate the downloads of files that take a huge, expensive effort to turn into breakable physical objects?
F.A.T. artist Kyle McDonald has a few things to say about that.
I believe that networked media, in its current form, can not be regulated to such a fine degree as to deny access to specific files; and certainly not specific kinds of files. None of the regulations on physical goods can practically be applied to digital goods. The historical foundations of file sharing (music, movies, applications) have demonstrated this, but forbidden physical items exacerbate the discrepancy. Soon, machines that print arbitrary chemical compounds or organisms with arbitrary genetic information will similarly challenge drug and biochemical warfare regulations.
In response, McDonald has designed you a bunch of dangerous weapons in project Liberator Variations — The Compensator, The Half-Measure, The Ember, The Suicidal, etc.
Ideally, they should make people feel like there’s nothing sacred or singular about ‘that 3d printed gun file’ but that it’s something that can be remixed, appropriated, redirected, repurposed. That it’s not just ‘floating around out there,’ or in the hands of a few people, that’s it’s not something to be feared, but treated critically, carefully, humorously, seriously.