How well do you remember I, Robot? If you didn’t see that one, or have forgotten most of it, there is a scene near the beginning where Will Smith’s character blasts the owner of the world’s leading robotics company. He says that robots being able to do everything humans can do means that humans who make their livings through special talents, such as carpentry, are suffering. The basis of his argument was that major corporations are robbing the truly talented people of business.
That film came out in 2004, before the age of 3D printing. Now just over a decade later, we actually live in an age where machines can do what humans can do. And, in some cases, they can do it better and faster. So, has this meant the downfall of the livelihood of artists? No, it has actually had the adverse effect.
3D Printed Food Helps Even the Odds
The rise of TV bakers like Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss, has meant an increase in expectations among consumers. The work of bakers of this skill level being published around the world has raised the bar impossibly high – too high for some smaller bakeries to be able to match these standards.
This means that smaller businesses are losing out not as a result of automation, but of publication. Their saving grace, ironically, is with robots.
As opposed to robbing them of business, 3D printers can help smaller bakeries and restaurants raise the quality of the artistry of their food, thus not having to suffer too greatly due to a lack of resources.
Moreover, smaller bakeries now have the opportunity to increase their business by offering unique designs, designed by local artists on a commission basis. 3D printed food will essentially even the playing field when it comes down to what bakers can actually create visually.
Will The Industry Suffer?
Of course, this brings the argument right back around to where Will Smith was coming from. Is it fair or ethical for some bakers to use technology to achieve what others have to rely on talent and practice to be able to achieve?
This is a difficult question to answer. But, even if it were easily answered, the question is irrelevant. The fact is that 3D printed food is going to be a major factor in the future of food preparation. Established bakers are thus going to have to learn to use it to express their creativity via new applications.
The biggest bakers of the future are likely going to be the ones who learn to transcend the barriers of the 3D printed medium.
Image credit: http://bitesizedbiggie.com/3dprinting/