Archive for July, 2009

The end is near…of industrial production

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

“The future of sharing is near, and physical” reads on the front page of The Pirate Bay today.

The link points at a 3D printer called RepRap that can replicate itself. Yes, it’s a printer that can print out its own design.

“[RepRap] has been called the invention that will bring down global capitalism, start a second industrial revolution and save the environment…”
– The front page of The Guardian, November 25, 2006.

The technology has been around for a while, but what makes the device interesting is that it costs 500 dollars to build yourself.

In the future you will go to The Pirate Bay, download a 3D model of Louis Vuitton’s latest bag and print it right out to give to your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. The chinese factories for pirate goods will go out of business. In short term, they will switch to supplying the market with 3D scans of high-demand goods from all around the world, thus catalyzing the big switch. Stuff will flow into sweat factories, not out.

If you think The Pirate Bay is in the center of a generational shift and cultural transformation, check back again once the 3D models start flooding in. People who will be upset next will be designers, craftsmen, architects, manufacturers and those who supply the market with competitive traditional distribution channels.

Even more interesting will be the creativity of individuals who now with abundant access to virtual models of original physical designs, will create mashups unleashing iterations of cultural artefacts and cultural advancement never seen before by mankind.

In fact, the good itself is not going to be interesting anymore. A new page will turn that depicts the emergence of new behavioral patterns around objects. The mobile phone turns into a device for controlling a web of objects. The objects that we care share a history with us that has been digitally recorded, broadcasted, stored and linked with our surroundings. We will index our environment like maniac librarians.

The bottom line is that our current lifestyle of using material goods is not sustainable. We have to go for it, despite the Luddites who reject the new technology because of it’s potential short term negative consequences. The trade-off is far too great for this opportunity to be missed.

The manufacturers in the world of 3D-printers will be in the same situation where record labels are with digital filesharing or where mainframe manufacturers were with the advent of personal computers. New business models will emerge from this friction, rebuilding new avenues that will propel us right out of the galaxy – or inside our own minds and bodies as we start experimenting with bio technology.

The Pirate Bay for bionics will appear.

I would be leeching and mashing up artificial life and cyborg body extensions. If that doesn’t anger someone, then I don’t know what could. At that very moment I would be ready to upload myself to the digital planetary consciousness just to escape the political nightmare.

Go and read Bruce Sterling‘s Shaping Things for more.