Additive manufacturing: preparing for the reality of science fiction
Windle, William A.
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Historically, policymakers have had difficulty addressing issues raised by emerging technologies. Whether it is inadequate legislation due to a general lack of awareness, or overregulation from a perceived threat, emerging technologies seem to repeatedly confuse those responsible for ensuring their safe incorporation into society. Despite decades of experience with similar issues, this trend continues to this day. What lessons can be drawn from different approaches to policy development for other emerging technologies to help policymakers avoid these failures for additive manufacturing technologies? A structured focus comparison of three emerging technologies, unmanned aerial systems, autonomous vehicles, and additive manufacturing, revealed characteristics of emerging technologies—such as a low price point for market entry and rapid evolution—that tend to surprise policymakers. This thesis recommends organizations make a concerted effort to engage early and often in the policy development process, and that they carefully consider each stakeholder’s level of involvement. It is also recommended that the Department of Homeland Security leverage existing mechanisms, such as the Centers of Excellence partnerships and the Strategic Foresight Initiative, to engage nontraditional partners in addressing issues raised by additive manufacturing technologies.
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