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Old 09-07-2017, 12:44 PM   #21
Anthony
 
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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I agree there's a conflict here, but I think you're looking for it in the wrong place. AFAICT in the real world the big limiting factor on economic growth is the labor supply.
The trifecta of land/labor/capital still exists, and the general function of automation is to transform labor requirements into capital requirements.
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(Both headcount and education.) Bioroids and strong AI ought to solve that. On the other hand, most nations in THS have strong legal restrictions on them, mitigating the issue somewhat.
Most simple production does not require strong AI. You might not get exponential tech advancement (which does require labor or strong AI), but you'd get exponential advancement in stuff until you hit some other limit.
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Old 09-07-2017, 02:28 PM   #22
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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THS has an inherent conflict between the fluff text (radical) and the specified future history (less radical). Given that THS does not have exponential wealth increases, 3D printers must have some inherent limits to what they can produce, and the easiest one is feedstock.
If we take it literally, and the bottleneck is licensing, then the only thing stopping exponential growth is IP bureaucracy. I guess infosocialism is right after all. :)
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Old 09-07-2017, 03:47 PM   #23
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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I'm fine with large expensive industrial sized 3D printers competing with more classic factories. But those are a different beast from personal or small scale single building floor models.
Yep. And a dedicated single-process industrial-sized 3D printer (microfabricator) is surely always going to be cheaper for the job for which it's built than doing the same job on the same scale with lots of small general-purpose 3D printers. The same way that a big printing press is better for printing a run of books than a room full of inkjet printers.

3D printing is an area where transhumanist SF is prone to hand-waving and magical thinking, abandoning its pretensions to SFnal diamond-hardness. And nope, TS society doesn't appear to have turned all magical, despite the highly simplified and abstracted rules for 3D printers in the book.
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Old 09-07-2017, 03:53 PM   #24
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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If we take it literally, and the bottleneck is licensing, then the only thing stopping exponential growth is IP bureaucracy.
Yeah, which is blatantly absurd though it might fit the genre.

There's a general problem with 3d printers and the like: you have to choose between cool effects and rational economics.

A cool effect is "My $100,000 robotic minifac can print a $100 device in 1 hour" (this is vanilla UT).

Rational economics looks at that and says "That's not a $100 device, it's a $2 device".
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Old 09-07-2017, 04:23 PM   #25
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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The trifecta of land/labor/capital still exists, and the general function of automation is to transform labor requirements into capital requirements.

Most simple production does not require strong AI. You might not get exponential tech advancement (which does require labor or strong AI), but you'd get exponential advancement in stuff until you hit some other limit.
Unless people don't want exponentially advancing "stuff". Developed countries in the real world have already gone far in the direction of transitioning to a service economy, and if you look at the numbers, manufacturing output isn't going down. Rather, we're producing as much physical stuff as ever with fewer workers. Most people have no desire to own three cars. So a Fifth Wave economy is likely limited by the supply of service workers, broadly defined to include professionals.
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Old 09-07-2017, 04:28 PM   #26
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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Yeah, which is blatantly absurd though it might fit the genre.

There's a general problem with 3d printers and the like: you have to choose between cool effects and rational economics.

A cool effect is "My $100,000 robotic minifac can print a $100 device in 1 hour" (this is vanilla UT).

Rational economics looks at that and says "That's not a $100 device, it's a $2 device".
Real world economics can be irrational if it's shaped by irrational government policies. Just look at prescription drug pricing in the United States. Transhuman Space pretty much postulates that non-nanosocialist governments run their entire economies the way the United States runs its prescription drug market.
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Old 09-07-2017, 04:32 PM   #27
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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Real world economics can be irrational if it's shaped by irrational government policies. Just look at prescription drug pricing in the United States. Transhuman Space pretty much postulates that non-nanosocialist governments run their entire economies the way the United States runs its prescription drug market.
If the license is 98% of costs, the incentive to pirate is ridiculous.
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Old 09-07-2017, 04:36 PM   #28
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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Transhuman Space pretty much postulates that non-nanosocialist governments run their entire economies the way the United States runs its prescription drug market.
There are certain classes of products where licensing can realistically be the primary cost. Commodities would not be one of those things, and 3d printers don't distinguish between different classes of goods.
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Old 09-08-2017, 01:28 AM   #29
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
THS has an inherent conflict between the fluff text (radical) and the specified future history (less radical). Given that THS does not have exponential wealth increases, 3D printers must have some inherent limits to what they can produce, and the easiest one is feedstock.
THS occasionally catches flak for not being able to build up to the state it is in in 2100. If they are so fast-building, they are the solution to that problem. If not, then at least they aren't a problem.

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As far as electronics go, I assume that 3D printers are not capable of producing electronics directly -- rather, feedstock includes microelectronics that can be combined to form larger systems (this implies that THS electronics are massively parallel systems -- the electronics in feedstock are the equivalent of programmable neurons. Given the rest of THS technology, this is fairly believable).
That assumption seems to run against the canon, in which molecular computers are done by nanominifactoring.
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Old 09-08-2017, 08:11 AM   #30
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Default Re: How hard is it to acquire raw materials for 3D printing?

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If the license is 98% of costs, the incentive to pirate is ridiculous.
In the real world, governments can be very aggressive about piracy when they want to be. A $100 bill only costs the US Treasury 20 cents to make, but counterfeiting isn't rampant.

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There are certain classes of products where licensing can realistically be the primary cost. Commodities would not be one of those things, and 3d printers don't distinguish between different classes of goods.
This is a good point. Generic goods should be purchasable at a steep discount from the list price.
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