3D Printing in a Post-Scarcity World

By on April 22nd, 2011 in Ideas


We’re reading a short post on Singularity Hub that asks whether post-scarcity should be discussed more on their blog, due to a lack of awareness of the concept. We were certainly unaware of it – until we read their explanation: 
For people who don’t know what Post-Scarcity is, in a nutshell it entails everything being free (the abolition of money). Everything being free occurs due to superabundance of goods and services. Superabundance will be created via AI, nanotechnology (nano-assembly nanobots), and 3D printing. Things only possess monetary value due to scarcity. Monetary prices are required to restrict limited supplies in situations of scarcity. High-powered-AI will ensure our available resources are effectively limitless.
Interestingly, while 3D Printing has been likened to Star Trek replicators, this vision proposes that *society itself* will be rather Star Trek-like too, perhaps due to the presence of 3D printing tech. 
Obviously this is “a ways off in the future” to say the least! But as a thought experiment it’s interesting to contemplate ultimate 3D printing in such a world. Maybe 3D printers of the future will be able to produce ultra hi-fidelity parts and entire functional objects, and maybe even truly reproduce themselves automatically. But you’d think there are two things they cannot make: raw material for printing and the energy to drive the system. But maybe that’s not the case in this world. 
One could argue that unused objects could potentially be recycled back into raw material by “3D Breakers”, the opposite of 3D printers: they could take objects apart and decompose them back into printable raw material. 3D Breakers could be produced as easily as 3D printers – just another object to make. Hence easy access to raw print material. 
What about energy? Energy will be produced by machines that harvest energy from our surrounding environments, either from minerals, wind, solar, geothermal or other sources. But in this post-scarcity world, the machines that do this will (presumably) also be easily produced on 3D printers. Thus energy should be easy to come by.
But could they print a good cheeseburger? 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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