Welcome to Clip from Spiral logo

Interactive video lesson plan for: Can We Stop People From Printing Guns, Drugs, and Using DNA Weapons?

Activity overview:

Every time there’s a new technology criminals immediately take advantage of it, explains Steven Kotler. It's only a matter of time before they find new nefarious uses for 3D printing and synthetic biology. His latest book is Tomorrowland: Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact (


Follow Big Think here:

Transcript - If you look at kind of the three biggest criminal enterprises in the world right now it’s arms dealing, drugs and exotic animals – the exotic animal trade. Those are the three biggest illegal trades right now. Well we can use 3D printing to print guns already, right. That’s already possible. There are people working on a 3D printer for drugs, right. The idea is prescription pharmaceuticals you could print them in 3D. It’s a chemistry set 3D printer. The off label use of this stuff is obviously going to be the manufacturer of drugs, right. Synthetic biology lets us create brand new organisms from scratch so do you want your exotic parrot or do you want something that’s brand new?

So what’s interesting about this – and some of this stuff is a little farther out but over the next 20-25 years it means that the three largest criminal enterprises in the world are going to be available to anyone, right. With 3D printers, with a DNA typewriter which his sort of an at home synthetic biology interface so anybody can program DNA. It means that we’re going to all the illegal drug trades we’re going to pull the rug out from underneath them and nobody has any idea what happens next, right. That’s never happened before. We’ve always had organized crime because there’s always been stuff that we couldn’t get that we wanted. Well pretty soon we’re going to be able to get whatever we want. This is kind of the weird side of the abundance idea, right. When you live in world of abundance when we can use 3D printers and synthetic biology and when anybody can do it it means that a lot of the illegal trades, right, the bottom’s just fallen out. And what happens then we have no idea.

Synthetic biology is progressing so quickly, right. All kinds of new weapons are now possible, right. One of the things I look at in Tomorrowland is the question of could you design a bioweapon, a synthetic bioweapon that targets the president’s DNA alone. It’s very, very difficult to protect DNA, right. It lasts a very, very, very long time. It’s a long lived molecule and it’s everywhere, right. Every time you shake somebody’s hand, the President hands somebody a pen they’re getting DNA samples along the way. The government is already taking steps to protect the presidential DNA, right. If the President goes into public and he drinks a beer out of a mug there is somebody there to grab that glass afterwards.

Hillary Clinton -- and this was released in some of the NSA stuff that Snowden released -- told foreign diplomats that they should secretly collect DNA from foreign dignitaries. So the United States is already on the offense when it comes to genetics. I’d be very, very surprised if other countries weren’t doing the same back at us. And it’s going to become more and more of an issue. So, you know, right now we have to worry about all kinds of assassinations by bullets and by bombs and along those lines. With what’s coming... I can make a disease. I can make a disease that I spray into the air, you pass through it, nobody else gets sick and you get a slow neurodegenerative disease say that unfolds over a couple of years. Nobody even knows you’ve been attacked, right. They think you’ve just gotten sick. So we’re looking at a whole new kind of assassination and to think that, you know, terrorists aren’t going to be interested in this technology is ridiculous. Every time there’s a new technology criminals immediately take advantage of it. And this is the next technology so we’re going to start seeing criminals get involved in it.

Tagged under: Steven Kotler,technology,future,criminal,criminal minds,criminality,3D printing,synthetic biology,exotic animals,arms dealing,drugs,illegal trade,DNA typewriter,organized crime,bioweapon,DNA,government,president,Hillary Clinton,Edward Snowden,genetics,NSA,assassination,neurodegenerative disease,terrorist,terrorism,Big Think,BigThink,BigThink.,Education,Educational,Lifelong Learning,EDU

Clip makes it super easy to turn any public video into a formative assessment activity in your classroom.

Add multiple choice quizzes, questions and browse hundreds of approved, video lesson ideas for Clip

Make YouTube one of your teaching aids - Works perfectly with lesson micro-teaching plans

Play this activity

1. Students enter a simple code

2. You play the video

3. The students comment

4. You review and reflect

* Whiteboard required for teacher-paced activities

Share on:

Share Can We Stop People From Printing Guns, Drugs, and Using DNA Weapons? on Google+ Share Can We Stop People From Printing Guns, Drugs, and Using DNA Weapons? on Twitter Share Can We Stop People From Printing Guns, Drugs, and Using DNA Weapons? on Facebook Pin Can We Stop People From Printing Guns, Drugs, and Using DNA Weapons? Email Can We Stop People From Printing Guns, Drugs, and Using DNA Weapons?

Ready to see what else Spiral logo can do?

With four apps, each designed around existing classroom activities, Spiral gives you the power to do formative assessment with anything you teach.


Carry out a quickfire formative assessment to see what the whole class is thinking


Create interactive presentations to spark creativity in class

Team Up

Student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices


Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes

1000s of teachers use Spiral to deliver awesome, engaging activities that capture students' understanding during lessons.

Now it's your turn Sign up

Spiral Reviews by Teachers and Digital Learning Coaches

Review of Spiral by teacher: Kathryn Laster @kklaster

Tried out the canvas response option on @SpiralEducation & it's so awesome! Add text or drawings AND annotate an image! #R10tech

Review of Spiral by teacher: Room 220 Math Stars @3rdgradeBCE

Using @SpiralEducation in class for math review. Student approved! Thumbs up! Thanks.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Miss Ord @ordmiss

Absolutely amazing collaboration from year 10 today. 100% engagement and constant smiles from all #lovetsla #spiral

Review of Spiral by teacher: Adam J. Stryker @strykerstennis

Students show better Interpersonal Writing skills than Speaking via @SpiralEducation Great #data #langchat folks!

Review of Spiral by teacher: Dr Ayla Göl @iladylayla

A good tool for supporting active #learning.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Brett Erenberg @BrettErenberg

The Team Up app is unlike anything I have ever seen. You left NOTHING out! So impressed!

Get the Clip Chrome Extension & Create Video Lessons in Seconds

Add Clip to Chrome