Will.i.am serves as both the leader of the multi-platinum Black Eyed Peas and the "chief creative officer" of the 3D printing company 3D Systems. Having seen firsthand what the emerging technology is capable of – and that includes turning recycled bottles into clothing and bicycles, as 3D Systems and Coca-Cola's collaboration Ekocycle does – Will.i.am is starting to grow weary of what the future holds for 3D printing.
"I'm going to say something controversial. Eventually 3D printing will print people. That's scary," Will.i.am told Dezeen. "So right now we can print in post-consumer plastics, which is awesome. We can print in aluminum, which is bigger machines and awesome. We can print in titanium, which is pretty freaking crazy and amazing. We can print in steel, which is freaking hardcore. You can print in chocolate, and that's sweet. You can print in freaking protein; you can make freaking meat. You can print leather. You can print a liver. So if you can print a liver or a kidney. God dang it, you're going to be able to print a whole freaking person. And that's scary."
Scientists have already used 3D printing to create prototype organs out of living cells and, according to Dezeen, the ability to 3D print human tissue is roughly a decade away. Will.i.am believes that the printing of human beings – like that scene in The Fifth Element – will happen within "our lifetime." To prepare for the rise of 3D clones, the Black Eyed Pea warns that a new system of "morals, ethics, codes" needs to be in place before the technology arrives.
"So unfortunately that is the reality, but at the same time it pushes humanity to have to adhere to new responsibilities, new morals. New lessons are going to have to be implemented. For real," Will.i.am said. "Now we're getting into a whole new territory. I don't know what year it was, Moses comes down with the Ten Commandments and says 'Thou shalt not...' He didn't say shit about 3D printing… Humans – as great as we are – are pretty irresponsible. Ask the planet. Ask the environment."
Will.i.am also sees a connection between 3D printing and another futuristic technology popularized by science fiction TV shows. "You're starting with beef, and leathers, and body parts. Eventually it will get more complex. It's basically 'Beam me up, Scotty,' a 3D printer that disintegrates the source," he said. "Star Trek is pretty cool, because they had things like iPhones, and the Internet. They also had 3D printers. That was, 'Beam me up, Scotty.' Teleportation."