[LINK] home factory

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Tue Dec 5 13:06:48 AEDT 2006

On Mon, Dec 04, 2006 at 09:02:37PM +1100, grove at zeta.org.au wrote:
> On Mon, 4 Dec 2006, Kim Holburn wrote:
> >Another one of things I wasn't sure I'd ever see in my lifetime.  Maybe I 
> >will.
> >
> >http://blogs.smh.com.au/science/archives/2006/12/post.html
> Reminds me of a SF story I read recently.  Wars will be fought 
> over these machines.   They will be restricted from producing 
> banned products, like Polonium 210 or iPods.

you couldn't make polonium 210 with one of these...not even with a
nanotech replicator. it's an element, i.e. raw material not finished

ipods, however, are a different story.

> The people who use the machines will only license them and won't 
> be able to use the machine to make copies of them.


OTOH, the obvious extension of the GNU GPL to this kind of technology
may make restricting them impossible. a design is, after all, software
- and with a library of freely downloadable, usable, modifiable and
redistributable (i.e.  GPL-or-similar license) designs to work with, all
it takes is ONE viable design for one of these machines for the genie to
be let out of the bottle.

and it sounds like the people behind this project intend exactly that,
with their goal of having the plans for their machine available for free
on the internet.

> People will have rations to use the machines to make things
> they want or need - a car would use your year's supply, 
> a replacement battery for your mofo just a snip off the ticket.

the rationing will be in the raw materials, and the expense of
manufacture - even if these machines become cheap, any products produced
by them would be one-off individual constructions and completely unable
to compete on price with mass-produced stuff.

i suspect machines like this will have an amazing effect on design
(bringing the same sort of economy to amateur, student, and
semi-professional design as the free software world already has) but
wont have anywhere near the same direct impact on manufacturing.
one-offs just cost too much compared to mass-production.

the impact on manufacturing will be indirect - lots more designs can be
trialled by lots more people, and shared and improved (just as with free
software).....and the good designs will end up being mass-produced.

even so, there's still lots of things that are useful to lots of people
that AREN'T mass-produced, where there is no economy of scale to compete

(of course, all bets are off with nanotech replicators....if we ever
get them. with them, the economic difference between one-off and
mass-produced will be greatly reduced if not non-existant).


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>           (part time cyborg)

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