Friday, March 7, 2014

The Future of Defence Technology: 4D Printing and VARP

"The revolution in molecular biology and biotechnology can be considered as a potential Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). Andrew F. Krepinevich noted 10 RMA's in the history of warfare. Four elements are required for a RMA: technological advancement, incorporation of this new technology into military systems, military operational innovation, and organizational adaptation in a way that fundamentally alters the character and conduct of conflict. (1)

The future of US defence technology is so bright we should all wear Ray Bans. Exciting pipeline technologies with applications not only to the life sciences, but applications which will revolutionize how we conceive of defence in the first instance is now coming into focus on the event horizon. Two specific technologies likely to lead in this fundamental shift in how weapon research is conceptualized are 4D printing and DARPA's VARP project.  These technologies have the capacity to change how defence technology is researched and developed at the structural level much like the invention of the gun in 14th Century China. How and why are these two technologies so revolutionary? 
4D Printing

During a TED talk entitled: The Emergence of 4D Printing, Tibbits states, "The idea behind 4D printing is that you take multi-material 3D printing, so you can deposit multiple materials, and you add a new capability, which is transformation, that right off the bed, the parts can transform from one shape to another shape directly on their own. And this is like robotics without wires or motors. So you completely print this part, and it can transform into something else. See:


DARPA's Vanishing Programmable Resources program which issued a 3.5 million award to IBM to study the possibilities of 'strained glass substrates' that would crumble on command, was recently presented in an article by Defensetech See:  As if distructible computer chips weren't exciting enough,  I believe applications to 4D will usher in a fundamental change in how we conceive of battlefield technology and conduct war.
The ability to transform an object and then get rid of it when its utility ends is an exciting prospect. Certainly this could be applied to non-lethal weapons and the destruction of parts which would render certain capabilities inoperable. The technology has not only defensive applications but offensive ones as well.
Dragon voice recognition

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