Re: [rp-ml] Open source whatchamacallits

From: Adrian Bowyer (
Date: Fri Aug 12 2005 - 01:49:24 EEST

Quoting Andrew Sofie <>:

> Yes and it still will be expensive to create an xbox, in fact most
> likely more than MS charges. In your project you specifically state it
> will require a " kit" of parts to build even another FDM machine.
> Imagine the "kit" it would require to make an xbox. And would people
> have to solder the individual components to the board? Or would you need
> another "pick-and-place machine for that?
> Once all is said and done, your xbox ended up costing a lot.
> We cant forget people used to make most of their own things but they
> recently stopped because mass-manufacturing could offer them new things
> cheaper.

Of course mass production is cheaper than individual production because of
economies of scale. So we should immediately ask - what's cheaper than mass

A Cessna costs an awful lot more than a parrot. Given that the parrot is an
incomparably more subtle and beautiful flying machine than the Cessna, why is
it so much cheaper?

Only one reason: parrots can reproduce; aeroplanes can't. Any self-reproducing
technology has - in the end - to be cheaper than all non-self-reproducing
technologies. Think how much it would cost to build a parrot from the
component chemicals (with or without big-company mass production). And - even
if you could - you would end up with a dead parrot...

> You are talking about atomic scale construction here. No one knows this
> will be possible let alone the incredible amount of basic substances,
> many of which are monitored, one would need to run such a true
> "universal assembler".

No - that would be fun, but it is parrot-buildingly over-the-top for drug
synthesis. All you need for that is to be able to automate a chain of chemical
reactions; i.e. you need a robot chemistry set.

> Think about it; RP will undermine many aspects of patent law (not
> pharmaceuticals though), undermine a great deal of manufacturing,
> probably hit the design market pretty hard, undermine the distribution
> industry (HUGE profits here), really undermine the retail service
> sector ( The majority of jobs in America) and maybe undermine certain
> aspects of government control.
> Nanotech on the other hand will probably only be accessible by a select
> few individuals, be relatively inefficient for building large objects,
> improve nano-scale industrial profits (pharmaceuticals, electronics,
> etc) and probably create more government ability and control.
> RP is just too dangerous for a lot of people.This is really why it is
> truly important as it has the potential to create vast social change.
> Adrian knows this as does Steve and many others.

I think it's only dangerous in the sense that the motor car is dangerous.

Sure - if you give people the internal combustion engine a few will use it to
make tanks. But most will make hundreds of times as many ambulances. That's how
the Maynard-Smith hawks-and-doves utility matrix stabilises - with most people
well-intentioned, and comparatively few bank robbers, generals, muggers and so

> For me nanotech seems like a boondoggle for our time compared to the
> immense amount of greatly needed work in RP technologies.

It depends if people short-sightedly insist on parrot building, which is what
most nanotech bods are doing at the moment. As I said in my previous, the
planet is knee-deep in nanomachines. If we would like nanotech to work, to
work fast, and to work cheaply, we should be adapting them to do what we want.



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