Have you ever heard of 3d printing? We all know what 2d printing is, in other words printing on paper. With 3d printing, you use a 3d model and the machine generates a real version of it with plastic.
This technology has been around for a few decades really but it is now advancing at a rapid pace. As quality goes up, the cost is plummeting down.
Check out this video of a modern 3d printer.
Pretty cool eh? In Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash he talked about a world where this technology has progressed into nano assemblers. This is ultimately where I think it is going to go. Basically, a nano assember is a machine that would construct, or “print” complex objects molecule by molecule. It’s beyond our technology right now but it’s not physically impossible. Current 3d printers have to use the same material for the whole object (usually plastic) but a nano assembler can construct anything using a supply of raw material atoms. Therefore you could assemble electronic devices and other complex objects.
Here’s a great video about nano assemblers !
This technology will change the world. Right now we are impressed that we can get overnight shipping from Amazon.com and get products the next day. Imagine buying an item and having your household assembler create the item in an hour or even minutes. The implications are huge. Warehouses will be obsolete. Trucking and shipping companies business model will be disrupted.
Can education resist changing in the face of this technology too? So far it has remained remarkably resistant to change which is a testament to the resiliency of the initial design. Imagine being able to replicate objects for your class to study and use!
All societies and economies are based on the principles of scarcity. What if that changes? This is just one of several technologies that will transform humanity in this century. Buckle up!