Speedy Mutualism

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How will it take to get from this

The
 conditions
 of 
physical
 production
 have,
 in
 fact,
experienced
 a 
transformation
 almost 
as 
great
 as 
that
 which
 digital 
technology
 has 
brought 
about 
on 
immaterial
 production.
 The
 “physical
 production
 sphere”
 itself 
has 
become
 far
 less 
capital-intensive. 
If
 the 
digital 
revolution
 has 
caused 
an 
implosion 
in 
the
 physical 
capital
 outlays
 required
 for
 the
 information
 industries,
 the
 revolution
 in
 garage
 and
 desktop
 production
 tools
 promises
 an
 analogous
 effect
 almost
 as
 great
 on
 many
 kinds
 of
 manufacturing.
 The
 radical
 reduction
 in
 the
 cost
 of
 machinery
 required
 for
 many
 kinds 
of 
manufacturing
 has
 eroded 
Stallman’s 
distinction 
between
 “free
 speech”
 and
 “free 
beer.”
 Or 
as 
Chris 
Anderson 
put 
it,
“Atoms
 would 
like 
to
 be
 free,
 too, 
but
 they’re 
not
 so 
pushy
 about
 it.” (Kevin Carson, The Homebrew Industrial Revolution, 220)

to this?

Soon, no doubt, there will be a 3D printer in every home and social robots may well be providing the vigilant company to the elderly who live alone. The present machines,” wrote Samuel Butler in The Book of Machines, “are to the future as the early Saurians to man. The largest of them will probably greatly diminish in size. Some of the lowest vertebrate attained a much greater bulk than has descended to their more highly organised living representatives, and in like manner a diminution in the size of machines has often attended their development and progress.” Technology is plotting its own evolution and the purely human advantage is becoming increasingly small. New fusions and adaptions between the organic and the near organic continue. Silicon, once sand, the second most common element built into the earth’s crust, carries deep with in it an ironic reminder of our own amphibious evolutionary past. Our roots, as cybernetic organisms, come from the same source. Though we are often blind to the machines that surround us – technology is the ocean within which we swim – these exchanges and interactions fuel us. As evolutionary beings, we are willing participants, hungry to transform.

In Shenzhen companies, factories and markets are adjusting to the new products and modes of manufacturing that they bring. A realization is dawning. The age of the copy is over. It is time to mutate. (Anna Greenspan and Suzanne Livingston, Future Mutation: Technology, Shanzai, and the Evolution of the Species)

Old Nick chimes in to fill some gaps and provide some speculation on the height on this tendency: the convergence of miniaturizing manufacturing technology towards a “self-replicating symbiotically assembled Universal Constructor“.

In the more short term, Dubai is several years into an initiative to make itself into the world’s preeminent 3-D printing hub, which has already seen the launch of a 3-D printing factory, the construction of a 2700 square-foot 3-D printed office building, and ambitious plans to 3-D print some 25% of its building construction by 2030. Meanwhile, the US’s Department of Defense Subcommittee on Emerging Threats allocated $13.2 billion of the $639.1 billion for investments in 3-D printing technology, aiming to begin the process of bringing usage of the printers up to “tactical level”. On cue, fears have begun to circulate that (alleged) already-occurring usage of 3-D printers by terrorist organizations will have radical implications for future battlespaces.

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