Banning Garrett

  • Campbell and Garrett on National Security Implications of 4D Printing

    Bloomberg Businessweek cites "The Next Wave: 4D Printing," a report by Brent Scowcroft Center's Strategic Foresight Initiative Senior Fellows Thomas Campbell and Banning Garrett along with Skylar Tibbetts, on the national security implications of 4D printing:

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  • The Next Wave: 4D Printing

    Programming the Material World


    3D printing (additive manufacturing) has been around for nearly three decades, but only in the last few years has it captured the imagination of millions of people with its potential to manufacture almost any object, as well as to create complex objects impossible to make via traditional manufacturing approaches. Three years ago, the Atlantic Council explored the implications of 3D printing in a groundbreaking report, Could 3D Printing Change the World?

    A new report by Thomas A. Campbell, Skylar Tibbits, and Banning Garrett, The Next Wave: 4D Printing - Programming the Material World, examines 4D printing, a new disruptive technology on the horizon that may take 3D printing to an entirely new level of capability with profound implications for society, the economy, and the global operating environment of governments and businesses alike. Programmable Matter (PM), here described as 4D Printing (4DP), has the economic, environmental, geopolitical, and strategic implications of 3D printing, while providing new and unprecedented capabilities in transforming digital information of the virtual world into physical objects of the material world.

    pdfRead the Report (PDF)

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  • Moving to Zero

    How much of human productive activity can be moved to "near zero marginal cost"? Jeremy Rifkin's provocative new book poses the question to our future. The case for "near zero marginal cost" in the digital world is pretty clear, as Rifkin so ably explains. Think of a piece of software (from Microsoft Office to a Beyonce track). Once produced (which could have enormous cost), production and distribution of additional copies over the Internet is virtually free. Any additional "cost" is amortized cost of building, maintaining and operating the transmission infrastructure (which can also be huge), not the product itself. Thus, the marginal cost of the product is almost zero. We are thus in an age of data abundance, virtually unlimited by physical reality. Put differently, there is no scarcity to drive up the price. You and I can both have copies of the same digital data or MOOC course without additional cost or competition for a scarce product as an unlimited number of copies can be made without using up physical resources. The marginal cost of Rifkin's "Communications Internet" is thus near zero -- after accounting for the costly infrastructure and its operation and maintenance.
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  • Will US Seize Opportunities of the Third Industrial Revolution?

    The United States could emerge as one of the biggest winners from the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR). The US is the overall leader in the development and deployment of the new technologies and innovations of the TIR. Its other advantages include relatively cheap and available energy resulting from the unconventional gas revolution in the United States. This “revolution” is providing a competitive edge for US manufacturers and is attracting foreign corporations, especially in petrochemical and other high-energy consuming industries, to relocate to the United States.
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  • Will the Third Industrial Revolution Create More Jobs than It Kills?

    Is the Third Industrial Revolution likely to destroy more jobs than it creates, or will the new technology powering the this revolution lead to creation of more new jobs than those are eliminated, as technology has done throughout history? Will the trend toward increasing concentration of wealth at the top continue as well? There are no certain answers to these hotly debated issues.  As they say in the mutual funds industry, past gains are no guarantee of future returns—trends continue in a linear fashion until they do not.
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  • Robots: Out of the Factory and Into Our Lives

    While 3D printing is changing the when, where and how of things are made in the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR), the new robotics is enhancing productivity and changing the role of humans in the production process and the overall economy. The development of a new generation of robots that are easier to program and are safer and easier for humans to interact with is making it possible for humans and robots to work alongside each other. It has become possible now to substitute robots for human labor in more manufacturing and service jobs. The new robotics extends far beyond traditional roles and forms of robots. Not only are vehicles from cars to drones to submarines becoming robotic, but digital robots are taking on tasks previously reserved only for humans.
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  • Digitizing Life: The New Frontier

    Synthetic biology and bioengineering are an emerging factor in the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR), building on the convergence of a wide range of technologies leading to development of new, previously unimaginable technological capabilities. While there are a huge number of potentially beneficial products of the synbio revolution, there are also growing concerns about the potential for the bioengineering of deadly viruses by error or design.
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  • From Start-ups to Space Exploration

    The Revolutionary Impact of 3D Printing

    The Economisthas hailed 3D printing (3DP) as the foundation of the Third Industrial Revolution. 3D printing is a process of layering to make things rather than carving them out of pieces of material. Although the basic 3D printing technology was invented three decades ago, it has reached a take-off point as computer-aided design, big data, cloud computing, and new materials have combined to enhance the capability and reduce the cost of 3D printing. As President Barack Obama noted in his 2013 State of the Union address, 3D printing “has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”

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  • An Emerging Third Industrial Revolution

     Politicians and policymakers understandably focus almost exclusively on near-term problems and crises. They often operate in reactive mode as hotspots and domestic political pressures set priorities. But their “global operating environment” (GOE) is rapidly changing, often in ways that affect national security challenges and choices in the present as well as in the future. To appreciate this, one need only consider the impact on the GOE over the last twenty years. The Internet has changed the personal, social, and business lives of billions of people and has created entirely new opportunities and challenges for governments. Now a new combination of factors is changing the world, possibly with a greater impact over the next two decades than the Internet has had over the last two. This is the “Third Industrial Revolution” (TIR). 

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  • China-US Cooperation: Key to the Global Future

    A new and unprecedented report prepared by a team of Chinese and American strategic thinkers concludes that the two countries are not adequately addressing critical global challenges of the 21st century. China-US Cooperation: Key to the Global Futurecalls for the creation of a Vision Group of senior American and Chinese nongovernment and former government experts to build on the idea of a new great power relationship proposed by China’s President Xi Jinping.  A China-US Joint Working Group convened by the Atlantic Council in Washington and the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) in Beijing produced the report, with generous support from the China-United States Exchange Foundation.

    pdfDownload PDF (English)
    pdfDownload PDF (Mandarin)

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