November 26th, 2010

Elle reading

Capitalism's death is on the horizon.

My friend kengr made a post on her LJ about the social effects of certain kinds of tech (in this case, audio and video recording tech) being cheap, being everywhere, and how that is changing society. So I made this comment:

There's a story by Cory Doctorow, I forget the title, that deals with what will happen when 3D printing technology (which already exists) gets good enough to print anything, and cheap enough to be everywhere. In that story, the government - in as last-ditch effort to save capitalism - tries to outlaw these cheap 3D printers, and does, but fails to enforce it well enough.

If I knew an appropriate to do it, I'd be sorely tempted to protest or counter-protest with a sign that says "CAPITALISM IS ALREADY DEAD, LIKE COMMUNISM. 3D PRINTING WILL SOON BE OLD ENOUGH TO DIG THE GRAVE."

~ ~ ~

My Mindeodean story universe features a society with an economy that was basically built on the fabber, AKA "fabrication machine," AKA a really sophisticated 3D printer. Mindeodean's economy wasn't always post-scarcity; when the colony was first set up, they had an economy that combined capitalism and communism (I *am* fond of that model). But then the fabbers came, and got cheap. A new economic model was needed. They finally settled on one where the businesses wouldn't worry so much about products as they did about raw materials and ideas. The economics of their system focus on getting the raw materials for fabbers, whether by digging for ores or via recycling services. (Though recycling services don't do as well in poor areas, where people do their own recycling through an addition to fabbers called reclaimators.) Mindeodean economy focuses on raw materials, designing product templates, and on services. The richest people either mine for rare materials, are especially good at designing new product templates, or offer services. Hospitals do pretty well, as certain safety standards are needed for medical fabbers, since medifabbers don't work the same way as regular fabbers (they grow what they need inside the machine instead of putting it together from element tubes). And there are still many health-related things that medifabbers simply cannot do.

Also, when fabbers and reclaimators became so common that the poorest of the poor had them, the rich were already starting to consider fabbed goods to be cheap crap for poor people. Some worked on smaller, more compact, and higher-class fabbers, while others started to demand hand-made goods. A whole industry erupted over the boom for hand-made goods, especially in the art of determining whether something was truly hand-made or if someone cheated by fabbing it in whole or in part. It takes a lot of work to make everything by hand without using fabbed materials, so the rich pay high prices for the genuine article. Which again, is similar to the economic system of another of my storyverses, the planet Traipah. Traipah doesn't have anything like the fabbers, but they *do* prize the arts and the crafts.

Crossposted from