This article is published in the May 2014 issue.

Visions 2025: The New Making Renaissance: Programmable Matter and Things


The Visions 2025 initiative is intended to inspire the computing community to envision future trends and opportunities in computing research. Where is the computing field going over the next 10-15 years? What are potential opportunities, disruptive trends, and blind spots? Are there new questions and directions that deserve greater attention by the research community and new investments in computing research?

The second workshop to be held as a part of this series is The New Making Renaissance: Programmable Matter and Things.

Today’s emerging “Manufacturing Renaissance” is radically different from the more traditional tides of innovation seen over fifty years of computation such as Moore’s Law. Instead this disruptive innovation is more akin to the introduction of major transformative technologies such as the printing press, the programmable loom, and the computer itself. This new renaissance, driven by personal, creative, and independent manufacturing, will change not only the way that most items are designed, manufactured, and delivered, but also radically expand the range of potential artifacts, materials, interactivity, and applications.

This Manufacturing Renaissance has at its root the confluence of three major technological trends: (1) accessible, cheap, and fast creation of matter in new forms (e.g. 3D printing and digital fabrication technologies), (2) on-demand electronics, and (3) programmable intelligence in every object. The creativity and change unleashed by this revolution could fundamentally change how society operates with a return to craftsmanship, an adoption of mass customization, and new models of sharing, crowd-funding, and making.

This two-day workshop will bring together experts in 3D printing, digital fabrication, synthetic biology, printable electronics, end-user programming, manufacturing, robotics, design, healthcare, CAD/CAM, and intellectual property. The goal of this workshop is to inspire the computing community to envision future trends and opportunities within this critical emerging landscape. Where are the potential opportunities, disruptive trends, and blind spots? Are there new questions and directions that deserve greater attention by the research community and new investments in computing research?

The workshop will be held in June. For more information, please visit: https://turing.cra.org/ccc/visioning/computing-visions-2025/new-making-renaissance.

An additional Computing Visions 2025 workshop will be occurring soon, titled Computing and the Smart World.