It has been a while since I've updated the 3d-printing scrapbook on this site, but not for want of stories about it. In fact, as we will discover this week, there is big news on this front, beginning with today's story, which several readers here noticed and shared. Now, you may be wondering why I've put this story under the category of the "transhumanist scrapbook," but we'll get to that in a moment, for it has to do with today's high octane speculation. 3-d printed structures have already been built in China, so what's the fuss here? Here's one version of this story that appeared at Zero Hedge:
OK... the "house" is not exactly a nice looking modern American middle class brick home with faux Tudor turrets and windows, but then again, those homes now cost as much as three-or-four modern overpriced automobiles that can be remote controlled and sent into trees if you or your family step out of line. Ahhh... progress!
This cozy little place was only a little over $10,000, and that means, considerably less money than a new car, and unlike other structures made from "additive manufacturing," this one was not printed elsewhere and assembled on the spot, but printed right on the spot. With a little extra money, I'm sure a basement could have been dug out and a basement printed as well for those requiring shelter during tornado season in Russia (remember, they get them too).
But just allow your mind to wander a bit, and speculate on all the implications: suppose they perfect all this and can print your modern American middle class brick home with faux Tudor turrets and windows... at a fraction of the cost (that is to say, for the price of just one - not several - of the modern over-priced automobiles that can be remote controlled and sent into trees if you or your family step out of line). What's brought down the cost? Once again, it's labor productivity that has been drastically reduced. Now let your imagination really go: imagine printing roads with the process. Indeed, why have humans driving the equipment that digs the roadbeds at all? This can be done with automatically controlled vehicles. Another robot printer can print the frames for the concrete pouring, and another can then pour the concrete. Few, or no, humans needed. Cost of making or even repairing and maintaining the road? Drastically reduced. Why? Labor productivity has once again declined, dramatically.
Speculate further: if it is simple houses today, why not high-rises? As the article states, apartment buildings have already been constructed in China using parts printed by 3-d printing. But now imagine doing it on the spot - as with this little house - and today's erection cranes give way to tomorrow's 3-d printing modules, and high rises could conceivably go up not in a matter of weeks, but possibly just days. And again, at a fraction of the cost. Why? Once again, because of the decline of the costs of labor productivity.
And of course, there is the application of the same technology for space purposes; already NASA and other space agencies are looking at the process not only for printing spare parts in space for simple repairs, but looking much farther ahead to the possibilities of using the process to construct permanent human habitation and working spaces off-world. And the black projects world has a wonderful new technology to play with in their underground bases and tunnels, a boon not only to the elimination of labor productivity and maintenance costs, but, as human labor production requirements fall, so do the security risks as fewer people are "in the know." As I've stated before, I strongly suspect that additive manufacturing comes out of the black world, since the process has been around for a long time(decades, if one really digs into it), and it probably much more advanced in that black projects world than is evident in the public one. (And here's a thought to ponder, why in the past few years has 3-d printing been being "driven" into the public consciousness by stories such as these?)
So why belabor all of this? Because again traditional economic models of analysis will have to be drastically revised. Typically, housing is one area that has been looked at as an indicator of the economy's health and the employment market. When houses are built, people are spending, and people are employed building them. But with the progress and advances in the additive manufacturing process and the low cost of building a house manufactured on the spot, more people who cannot now build or afford a home will be able to do so. Thus, a housing market can expand, without the hitherto typical expansion of employment. Hence, for those making such models and emphasizing the need to shift back to a production economy, a problem is posed: how does one increase production when labor productivity is falling due to technological progress? What does one do with the decrease of jobs once filled by humans?
As I've argued before, there must be a dramatic increase in human productivity.
See you on the flip side...