I’ve talked about this before. Amusingly at work I was laughed at when I brought it up. But now, a year later, those very same people are talking about how it might not be so silly. On the horizon is a new form of business I believe.
The current model is that you send raw resources to a nation (or location in general) that will process those resources and provide you with a good for marketing to the demographics you think relevant. This involves enormous amounts of fuel and other resources and is generally just an incredibly wasteful way to run an ecosystem of any kind.
With the rise of 3D Printing we are seeing the dawn of a new era. Not with the current additive models, but like the internet, these slower and clunky systems will quickly make way for more advanced ones. In our lifetime, and I think this is without a doubt, we will have printing systems that can build things on the molecular level. I’m uncertain if laboratories don’t already have this but I’m speaking on the personal, in-home, scale.
Once these systems exist we will see people printing their own circuitry. Their own plates, or even entire machines. And once you’ve built a printer that can itself build other printers? Well, the industry changes.
We shift from sending raw goods to other nations to sending raw goods to the customer themselves. The market becomes one of dioramas and the building blocks to realize said dioramas. I begin to wonder what happens at this point for our idea of business as a whole.
Without question we will see very rocky starts to this industry. Laws will tighten on intellectual property and copyright in an effort to retain the status quo (I can’t help but feel a little dumber anytime I write “status quo”). Perhaps in a few generations the writing will be on the wall and we’ll move towards that Star Trek economy I spoke of a while back.
If it doesn’t happen on Earth it will almost certainly happen once we are traveling in space. There people will take the building blocks of asteroids, the thing atmospheres of larger bodies, and perhaps even stellar gas to create the things that they need.
Hopefully we’ll work out this whole CRISPR thing for me so that I can live long enough to see this all. That would be nice.