Showing posts from April, 2009

RepRap Alternatives

RepRap just doesn't hit any sweet spot with their current design. Too limited and crude to create much of interest for developed nations, other than RepRap hobbyists. Too high-tech and limited (and I am guessing unreliable, if one tried using it for regular production) to be of interest in less developed nations. In order for it to take off, it must offer easily accessible high value, to excite potential users who don't "get" that it's "just so darn cool!" AND be able to produce most of its own parts.

A computer controlled wood milling machine, with a 3D scanner to capture designs from hand carved wood parts, would at least have had a real market. Wood-working hobbyists in developed nations would pick it up fairly quickly. Craftsmen in less developed nations could use it to turn out copies of hand-carved furniture parts, decorations, bowls, etc. Where RepRap needs steel structural members, a wood milling system could turn out thick structural par…
Michio Kaku interviewed on Fox News about Molecular Manufacturing

I wonder if Kaku understands what he's saying when he says "second industrial revolution". If you count everything since the printing press, molecular manufacturing is likely NOT going to be THAT revolutionary. We've had about 4 industrial revolutions, each one re-shuffling society:

Peasants; nobility
***Printing Press, ocean-going ships**
Peasants/slaves; craftsmen/merchants; nobility & colonial exploiters
***Steam power & steel**
Farmers & servants; factory & store workers; Capitalists
***electricity and Internal Combustion Engines**
Factory & store workers; office workers; Management & owners
***Electronic automation/computers/internet**
Store workers and govt dole recipients; government and management and specialists; Entrepreneurs & owners


***Molecular manufacturing**
hierarchy workers and govt dole recipients; entrepreneurs & specialists; owners & retirees


Charles Ponzi - Financial Genius for our Times

Charles Ponzi - after whom "Ponzi scheme" was named - convinced people to invest in postage stamps. This plan was widely criticized, because it promised profits, when in fact all it did was pay off early investors with a fraction of the money put into the scheme by newer investors.

These days, anyone who isn't self-deceived recognizes that this is the entire basis for Social Security, and increasingly all government spending. The entire idea behind the national debt is that someone will pay it off later - someone who must be a lot smarter than we are today, or perhaps a lot harder working, or perhaps just really stupid to pay off such a huge debt without having ever gotten any benefits and having no realistic chance of ever getting such benefits themself.

So ultimately, as no one seems willing to admit, the debt will be retired in one of two ways - repudiation, or inflation. Probably a combination - inflation to reduce the value, then some complex "currency re-valuati…