Writer and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow speaks eloquently in a new podcast on TVO about the future of regulation. Doctorow explains in plain language the troublesome future we may face if computing devices are regulated in the same ways we regulate specialized devices. He points out several examples where this approach simply won't work and may jeopardize our future exploitation of modern tech.
At the 34 minute mark, Cory explains how this may affect 3D printers:
In Alabama, it's illegal to make, sell or possess a sex toy. That's moderately regulatable in today's environment, but what I want to know is, what happens when a Magistrate in Alabama in some local court decides that someone like Bre Pettis <of MakerBot Industries> who's got a website where you can upload any plan for a 3D object and plug it into your printer and make it, is in essence trafficking sex toys into this guy's jurisdiction by making them available over the internet where a 3D printer might output them.
While that's an extreme (but likely to happen) example, Doctorow then describes several legitimate scenarios where regulation might be truly necessary. Conflicts such as these are perhaps inevitable and we suspect we'll see the first of them sometime soon.