3d Printing, Ethics, and ISIS

This week’s readings focused on the question of 3D printing, specifically as it pertains to ethics, within the historical realm, utilizing several examples of printing projects that have developed in recent years.
The first of these was the reconstruction of a triumphal arch from Syria, the original version of which had been destroyed by ISIS during their attempted conquest of the region. This arch was placed in Manhattan, amid minimal fanfare, and with little in the way of supplementary information to provide context for visitors and tourists. Ostensibly, the reconstruction was created in order to display the resilience of the human spirit in the face of terrorism and extreme violence, while utilizing images collected by the community to complete the printing project. Ethical questions were raised by some of the attendees regarding the lack of emphasis on the crisis in Syria that destroyed the original, and the use of monetary resources that could have been better spent on aiding refugees. Others remarked that the project seemed more like an opportunity to showcase technology than to serve as a memorial.
Clearly, whatever was hoping to be accomplished by the project organizers has more or less failed in the realm of public opinion. A small, indistinct arch was erected in New York City by individuals with little connection to the incident in question, attended by few people, who were confused as to the motive of the entire event. However, the ethical flaw here is not in the usage of 3d printing to restore a destroyed piece of architecture. This type of technology provides considerable potential for the study of archaeology, artifacts, and architecture while maintaining their integrity. The benefit to analysts, and the lack of potential harm to the objects in question, provide little downside. The ethical flaw is in the ambiguity in the utilization of this reconstruction, not in the reconstruction itself.

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