Wednesday, May 22, 2013
100,000 Downloads, Part Two
In the ten days since my last post, gleeful hackers have made improvements on the Liberator II -- enough that the plastic gun can now reliably fire eight shots before collapsing -- and, of course, put them up on the Internet too. Another inventor has announced improvements in metal-deposit 3-D printing, and given estimates on the expected cost of the hardware. Out of the fringes of medical research, scientists are discussing means of using 3-D printing and cloned tissues to rebuild whole organs. The various governments of the world have been silent on the entire subject.
This silence won't last forever. The immense possibilities of 3-D printing go far beyond sounding the death-knell of gun-control; they also spell the death of economic monopolies -- and the rich and powerful of the world won't take that lying down. 3-D printing will bring back cottage industry, or at least village industry, with a vengeance. This means economic decentralization and independence, a complete reversal of the trends of the last century and more. The long-lost village blacksmith will be replaced by the village printing-mill, the century-vanished wandering tinker will be replaced with the itinerant printing-mill, and so long as that mini-mill can get electric power, an Internet connection and raw materials, nothing short of an invading army will be able to shut it down. A few years down the pike, any county hospital will be able to create cloned-organ transplants. Add to that the food-growing capacities of aquaponics, and the implications are both liberating and mind-boggling.
They mean that the average county, at most, can be economically -- therefore politically -- independent. It will no longer be possible for Captains of Industry to impoverish or starve out whole towns, let alone countries. Governments will have to lure and persuade their subjects rather than threatening them. The rule of force will be reduced to outright warfare or nothing. Freedom will be a hell of a lot more possible.
Of course there will always be a place for direct-manufacturing plants; they'll be better at specialization, mass production and speed. They just won't be able to manipulate scarcity or surplus as they do today. What this will do to the financial "industry" is anyone's guess.
What the various governments of the world will do is another story. No doubt, a lot of them will try to regulate the new industry to death; inevitably, they'll fail. Where anti-3-D printing laws proliferate, the crime "business" will grow likewise, and spread into areas where it never had foothold before. We may yet see the Islamofascists overthrown by the Russian Mafia, and China disintegrate into a dozen bandit-industrial kingdoms.
In any case, the new technology can't be stopped. The hackers and inventors are coming up with new 3-D printing inventions and processes, and spreading the word around the Internet, with an almost frantic speed. Many hackers predict that governments will first try to censor and shut down the Internet, and they're making plans for that. Just what those entail I couldn't say, being an absolute Toddler On The Information Highway myself, but one snippet of gossip I've heard is: "Even if They chop down every cell-phone mast in the world, line-of-sight will still work."
The techno-cat is out of the bag for good and all, and the better world is indeed coming.
--Leslie <;)))>< )O(