Drones, 3D Printers, and the New Cyberpunk at SXSW

Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - 6:50pm

Walking through the SXSW crowds in downtown Austin this past Saturday, I had this brief, morbid thought about how much damage someone could do to a large group of people there, if they so chose. It seemed inevitable that eventually something bad would happen, and a few days later, it came in the form of a cowardly drunk driver who decided to plow through crowds of people rather than deal with the police. So now, instead of a drunk driving conviction, he's going to go to jail for murder.

You can't fix stupid.

I wonder how much this tragedy is going to affect the usual party atmosphere at SXSW. For one week, Austin, Texas is transformed into a mix of New Orleans and Los Angeles. It's amazing how all those entertainment billboards that are so ubiquitous in Los Angeles suddenly pop up here in Austin when the film industry comes to town. I never quite figured out the purpose of them in Los Angeles - after all, why do film industry people feel the need to advertise their own television products to themselves? But that's what Hollywood likes to do.

(The show to be pushed more than any other, it seems, is some morbid TV series from Showtime called "Penny Dreadful," which is being advertised on creepy, blood orange signs gracing Austin's buses. I cannot help but think what it is about our society that such dark matter is so attractive these days, though I confess, I do enjoy a good horror story once in a while.)

Generally speaking, if you are someone who actually lives in Austin (as I do), SXSW is something to mostly avoid, except for those times you might feel ready to brave the unwashed masses (and by unwashed, I mean literally unwashed) to go to some sort of sponsored soiree that involves free food and drink. (And on Saturday, this involved two separate events coincidentally offering free BBQ sliders.)

From my brief foray into the SXSW frenzy, it's clear that - barring a total breakdown in our energy production - the next generations are likely going to embrace becoming cyborgs. At the "Create" event, which showcased 3D printers and creepy animalistic robots, an enthusiastic group was busy looking for new ways to utilize technologies for all sorts of applications - though from the looks of it, right now that consists of cheap plastic toys spawned from the new 3D printers.

It's clear that a good portion of the future drone market is going to be geeks trying to find ways to have Cheetos airlifted to them from the kitchen - because they will be too busy playing games hooked up to their virtual reality console to get up off the couch.

To them, drones, walking robots, and anything mechanized is a toy. It's exciting and fun to them. I am not sure how much they are thinking about the other ramifications of these technological wonders. (Indeed, some woman was saying, I don't remember who, that kids were really into building electronic toys now, and some of them come with circuits that snap together magnetically.)

Speaking of virtual reality - it has finally escaped the 1990s and re-appeared in the form of working game systems. Seeing a little girl of about 6 or 7 with her head strapped in a machine was a bit disturbing. A projector showed us what she was viewing inside her VR goggles - a classroom taught by a gliding porpoise with a mortar board hat on his head.

Virtual reality was such a hot topic in the 90s - and its sleazy counterpart, VR sex. The cyberpunk magazine Mondo 2000 seemed to revel in spreads that showed cybersex partners wearing all sorts of odd-looking gear ("wetwear") designed to provide pleasure sent over the "information superhighway." Then for some strange reason, virtual reality went the way of movies like Johnny Mnemonic - Keanu Reeves waving his hands around to navigate 3D cyberspace was no longer cool - we had a real "World Wide Web" to explore. Funny, the techno hand-waving has come back - I just saw a bunch of it in the recent movie "Enders Game."

(Fun fact: I contributed to a book written by the editors of Mondo 2000 called How to Mutate and Take Over the World. I'm not even sure I got paid for it.)

If you really want to see a classic, bad cyberpunk movie, check out 1995's "Hackers," which has a young Angelina Jolie inexplicably fantasizing about the leading man wearing a kinky red vinyl outfit. Oh, and don't forget your rollerskates while you are jamming to Prodigy!


If at this point, you've realized that the history of modern tech has been filled with its share of "douchebags," then SXSW's emphasis on tech glitz and fake glamor should not surprise you.

"Douchebaggery" is a term often applied to the trendiness of SXSW. You won't find many bear-minded gold bugs there, or dour-faced doom and gloomers, unless you count the open carry march hastily organized by Alex Jones and InfoWars in response to anti-gun advocates crowing about how they have used bots to block pro-gun memes on Facebook.

The douchebaggery extends to the "maker" crowd, where, at the one 3D printing panel I attended, an older, brash blonde claimed that in the future, plastic surgeons will use 3D printing to create not just new breasts, but new butts, for the women of low self-esteem in the world. While she was initially selling us on her plan to provide nipple replacement for women with mastectomies, she was definitely seeing dollar signs here.

I wanted to ask her, "Why not stop there? Why not just make an entire designer baby in your 3D printer?"

If she could make money printing babies, I'm sure she'd do it.

Not everyone there is driven by greed - some, by more basic human needs. Would you eat food from a Star Trek replicator if you had a chance? I would, and so I was a bit more excited about the very passionate Indian guy who explained how he'd been able to make pizza with his 3D printer. Apparently, the tough part is not the cheese or tomato sauce, but the dough. Who would have thought!

His passion derived from an idealistic vision to feed the world's hungry using 3D printers. He said his biggest barrier would be dealing with people who are against processed food. I don't doubt it.

Another panelist had already built up a nice little boutique business selling custom 3D printed chocolates. Between plastic surgery, food, and chocolate, the 3D printing business is clearly getting a lock on a certain female demographic.

If custom chocolate and manufactured nipples are not your thing, then perhaps you might be interested in an 80,000 volt taser drone:

Chaotic Moon Studios - Project C.U.P.I.D.

Alex Jones has been all over this new drone as part of the growing police state, but I also had to look at the other side of things. The drone is being marketed as a possible home security device. Advocates for the Second Amendment are always talking about guns as self-defense. So wouldn't having your own "protector drone" be part of your Second Amendment rights?

What if the people had their own army of home-made drones to battle an encroaching police state?

Clearly, I've watched too many sci-fi movies. But I can think of one practical use for a small home drone that I would buy in a heartbeat - a bug zapper. (Nothing like a wasp flying into your living room when you are tired and exhausted from a bad cold - which had me screaming into my office recently and calling a man to come and kill the darn thing for me. Yes, that's right. When it comes to big flying stinging insects, I want a man to help me with it and I am not ashamed to say so!)

So, on behalf of women, I would like to apologize as we are probably going to be the ones buying the 3D food machines, home drones, and VR goggles for our kids.

What a brave new world we are heading into.

Stephanie blogs sporadically at a number of websites, including Freeople and Free Thinking Christianity.

About the Author


cliff 567
Mar 13, 2014 - 5:58pm

I read it 1st


Mar 13, 2014 - 6:29pm

Private Army of Drones?

I'm in! Love that idea! And even if they aren't armed, I could have a half-dozen or so flying random search grids around my perimeter, equipped with infared/heat sensing cameras, to give me early warning of intruders seeking to storm the castle. No midnight watches, just an automated warning when a warm body approaches (zombies could sneak through, but nothing is perfect). I am fully on board with this!

Steph, if you like sci-fi you might read The Unincorporated Man. Very interesting ideas, and he posits a "worldwide VR plague" where these systems become so real and emotionally fulfilling that nearly everyone becomes a VR addict, crashes the economy, and civilization nearly collapses- interesting stuff.

Mar 13, 2014 - 6:34pm


not quite furst though, is it sad.

Mar 13, 2014 - 6:46pm

I'll take the forth.

Now to do a bit of reading. smiley

Mar 13, 2014 - 7:08pm

Noobish question

what is sxsw?

I like the idea of 3d printing, would be a fun project to print off a working gun. To me the technology seems like an enabler of freedom

Mar 13, 2014 - 7:09pm


South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences that take place early every year (usually in March) in Austin, Texas

Mr. Fix
Mar 13, 2014 - 7:22pm

And I'll take sixth

Well, I was looking for a useful purpose for my old battle bot,devil

 you just gave me a few really good ones.enlightened

 Thank you Stephanie.yes

Mar 13, 2014 - 7:24pm

Who cares about…

…ninth or tenth anymore. 

Mar 13, 2014 - 7:24pm

Who needs Cheeto delivery

Who needs Cheeto delivery drones when you can get soylent out the tap beside water?


I am losing weight quite quickly (8 lbs so far after 2 weeks!) with a homemade version. Suggest everyone try it out, especially if you have a weight problem.


Mar 13, 2014 - 7:30pm
Mr. Fix
Mar 13, 2014 - 7:38pm
sierra skier
Mar 13, 2014 - 7:56pm

Cool Stephanie is back

And the topic looks good.

I'd love to have drones on auto pilot as part of my security perimeter. Making a cyber babe would be fun but you can never replace the real thing. A cyber babe might listen, be we all know a real one is way too unpredictable to expect regular results. The real ones always keep us guessing and that is part of the beauty of women.

bullion only
Mar 13, 2014 - 7:57pm

She's very cute

So what? She makes a video. So what? here will be no change until here is violin protest. American kids like ha are too soft to protest with anything over han a safe video in he safety in her very nice upperclass back yard. he sight of blood, especially her own is too much to handle. So my point is; nothing changes because nobody will dare to make a change because their life, as much as hey hate our government, is too good. The poor in our county live better than 90%of of the worlds population. She has running water, food, clothes o burn, smart phone...........life is too good o risk anything. Nothing changes until the masses go hungry. When you are hungry you don't care who is in charge as long as the food keeps coming. You don't even care if it is genetically modified. Nice speech kid. So what? RT

bullion only
Mar 13, 2014 - 8:00pm

sorry "t" key sticking

But you get he point.


PS I have kids. Life has been too easy for them and they are soft.

Mar 13, 2014 - 8:07pm

Non sequitur - GOFO

For anyone keeping score:

Lower highs in GOFO

Shortening periods between negative GOFO instances

Seems to be turning toward negative again

GLD not being replenished despite 10% rise from (both) bottoms (though of course inventory drops on price decline)

Mar 13, 2014 - 8:11pm

FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee

FBI agents working alongside Utah state prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption investigation have uncovered accusations of wrongdoing by two of the U.S. Senate’s most prominent figures — Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee — but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.

The probe, conducted by one Republican and one Democratic state prosecutor in Utah, has received accusations from an indicted businessman and political donor, interviewed other witnesses and gathered preliminary evidence such as financial records, Congressional Record statements and photographs that corroborate some aspects of the accusations, officials have told The Washington Times and ABC News.

Read more: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/13/fbi-blocked-in-corruption-probe-involving-sens-rei/#ixzz2vtJYRwlM

Mar 13, 2014 - 8:17pm

Mr Fix

She can use that blowtorch on me any day wink.

Mar 13, 2014 - 9:05pm
Mar 13, 2014 - 9:25pm


Nice find ag1969!!

Mar 13, 2014 - 9:27pm

Kathy gives Greg Fitts

Love her or hate her, she has a unique viewpoint that she espouses here, and poor ole Greg Hunter can't seem to rebut her one bit.

Worth a listen

Catherine Austin Fitts on the near term future;

Catherine Austin Fitts-The Big Question is How Violent will Things Get?
Mar 13, 2014 - 9:31pm

Turkish PM refutes claims of accounts in Swiss banks

I'm unconvinced:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses his supporters during a rally in Mersin. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses his supporters during a rally in Mersin. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted both the main opposition and the Fethullah Gülen movement at an election rally, accusing them of conducting a smear campaign against him, while vehemently denying claims he has secret accounts in Swiss banks.

“Shamelessly and insolently, they are making up incredible lies about the prime minister,” said Erdoğan, talking about himself in the third person. “Just as they did for my brother Zafer [Çağlayan] and my other brothers, they are also making the same things up about us,” Erdoğan said March 13 in the Mediterranean province of Mersin where he was accompanied by former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan.

Çağlayan is among four former members of the Cabinet whose names have been involved in a massive corruption probe that was launched Dec. 17, 2013. In addition to Çağlayan, former EU Minister Egemen Bağış and former Interior Minister Muammer Güler have all been subject to summaries of proceedings due to corruption and bribery allegations. A summary of proceedings about former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar has also been drafted as Turkey’s state-run housing agency, the Housing Development Administration (TOKİ), working under the Prime Ministry, was involved in the corruption allegations. Bayraktar was the former head of the body.


Mar 13, 2014 - 9:41pm


be careful what you wish for!!!...


Bag Of Gold

Fred Hayek
Mar 13, 2014 - 9:46pm

Interesting stuff, Stephanie. Thank you

It's easy to forget how many subcultures there are in the U.S. and other countries. We default too easily to binary representations, the awake and the sheeple etc. The subculture you highlight is sort of friendly to stackers but perhaps all too willing to wallow in whatever toys are put before them.

Mr. Fix bullion only
Mar 13, 2014 - 9:55pm

@ bullion only

Personally, I hope that video goes viral, and gets several million views. It had only 301 when I posted it.

 Waking up the populace is quite important, especially amongst your peers.

 The young lady who made that video very well could have been my own daughter, and she is unafraid to point out not only what is wrong with the curriculum at school, but the agenda that is being foisted upon them.

 She talks to her friends about issues like our evaporating constitutional rights, morality, and she's even quite a conspiracy theorist herself.

 The difference between her and most of the people who never talk to her will be the ones that never talk to her will probably never know what hit them when the shit hits the fan.

 I agree with you that this video may not stop what is about to unfold, but it will help when the smoke clears, and humanity needs to rebuild what's left of society.

 We know all too well that the politicians or the bankers will never be held accountable for their actions unless people stand up and recognize how much at fault they are.

 Just today for example, my daughter who is studying history in her advanced placement (college-level) American history class, demanded of the teacher why J.P. Morgan was not included amongst the robber barons that they were studying. In fact, she demanded to know why his name was not even mentioned in a $200 textbook!

 She's also got the teacher and her classmates to watch "The Secrets of Money" by Mike Malony. it's a small group, but they probably know more now about the banking system than 99% of the global population.

The first casualty of war (the truth) has already passed, but simply pointing out to everyone she knows how much we are being lied to serves a very useful purpose, and it may actually save some lives.

My daughter, (whom I often referred to as Little Fix), is also quite handy with torches, welders, power tools, hand tools, cross bows, compound bows, firearms, and she's not afraid to show her friends.

 She has also taught many of the skills that I have taught her.

 She has made her own educational YouTube videos, which have been used to recruit other aspiring scientists into a program that both of us are involved in, that teaches problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking.

 Has she accomplished nothing?

 Of course not! We all do what we can.

 People are beginning to wake up, and the more we talk about what's going on, the faster that will happen.

So in answer to your question “so what”?


Mr. Fix
Mar 13, 2014 - 9:58pm

Bag Of Gold, what you doing to my little buddy?

After all that work I went through to rescue him in one of our past adventures!

 I've got to admit, that's pretty funny!heartheartheart

Mar 13, 2014 - 10:02pm

Mr Fix, once again

Congrats on a great post.

You and Little Fix are inspirational!! Is is clear to see how proud you are of your daughter, and so should you be.

Sincerely, and with 1000 hat-tips,


Mar 13, 2014 - 10:07pm


And you be careful where you're aiming that thing ... ouch! cheeky

Mar 13, 2014 - 10:10pm

I thought that video was great!

...I'm just sayin'...

Mar 13, 2014 - 10:12pm

Flying Tazer

I wants me one !!! 

Mar 13, 2014 - 10:14pm

Mr. Fix...

I've changed my mind!...

Yum!...Yum!...Yummy!...Tea with a bagel!!!...


Bag Of Gold

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